Thursday, 18 Jul 2024

British drivers fury at ‘very stupid’ 70mph speed limit that causes ‘dawdling’

Historic BBC clip shows motorists anger at ‘dawdling’ 70mph speed limit

Decades-old footage has resurfaced of angry British drivers complaining about the first-ever motorway speed limit of 70mph.

In the nostalgic clip, reshared by BBC News, hundreds of drivers are shown protesting – including one woman who said “It’s quite ridiculous if you’re expected to dawdle along at 70mph”.

Before December 1965, when the limit was introduced as a trial, motorway drivers could speed as fast as they wanted.

The speed limit ended up staying permanently in 1967 after a drop in the number of accidents.

In the video, filmed in January 1968 at an M1 service station in Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire, a BBC journalist asks the driver of a soft-top car, why they attended the protest.

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She responded bluntly: “Well, because I think it’s stupid. Very stupid.”

When asked what’s stupid about going at a safe speed, the woman added: “Well, it depends on who’s driving the car, whether the speed’s safe or not, doesn’t it?”

Another woman, who said she reaches top speeds of 115mph, told the broadcaster: “I drive a lot each year. I drive about 24,000 miles and a lot on motorways and it’s quite ridiculous if you’re expected to dawdle along at 70 miles an hour.

Close to 500 people gathered at the service station to listen to the organiser of the protest, Graham Arnold.

He said: “The British motorist has got fed up with being pushed around by successive governments, not just in terms of speed limits and parking restrictions, but in terms of tax on petrol, tax on motorcars and all the petty privations that have been put on us as motorists over the years.”

Dismay continued over the next several years, especially in December 1973 when even lower speed limits were introduced as a response to the OPEC oil crisis.

The speed limit dropped to 50 mph until May of the following year when the temporary restriction was lifted.

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