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Jack Bains

Can I also suggest that for an small fee Direct Debit over 12 months be used for the "Car Tax" as this would help spread the payments and maybe encourage more people to pay.

Mark Wadsworth



- motorways should have variable speed limits anywhere between 20mph and 90mph depending on weather and congestion

- Just turn off all the traffic lights as an experiment, if it doesn't work, then turn them on again. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Or as a compromise have then alternate between flashing amber (give way) and flashing green (proceed with caution). A town in Holland turned them all off and things have improved enormously.

- Higher fees for personalised number plates is a brilliant idea. It is a mixture of voluntary tax and user charge, nigh the perfect tax. My magic fag packet says this would raise a couple of billion quid more or less painlessly.

Michael Aronson

The 70mph speed limit effectively 'criminalizes' decent law abiding people. While at the same time it's legal to drive on dangerous country routes at 60- it's time for a full review.

I've seen the traffic light countdown in Asia and it's a great idea- maybe we should phase it though due to the costs.

I doubt most people understand the numberplates. In the US they name the states and it looks far better, but our country is too small for that to work. I'd like them changed but the police do need some form of regulation in our numberplates.


"Those who wish to continue to drive at 70mph would be free to do so."

Hmmm, I'm not very keen at getting stuck behind slow drivers who are going several MPH under the limit. Aside from that I full support this idea.

"The political risk it that one will get bogged down in arguments with road safety and environmentalist fanatics, for whom anything which does not make life harder for road users cannot be contemplated."

Such fanatics can be ignored, they are in a minority and probably don't vote Tory anyway. This doesn't mean we should ignore the more moderate supporters of these ideas though who are less likely to be obstructive and far more representative of the general population.

Matt Wright

Some other simple suggestions:

1) Review use of traffic lights. There are a number of areas where actually removing lights or replacing with roundabouts would speed flow up.
2) Look at allowing people to turn left at certain junctions with lights if nothing is coming (allowed in some other countries).
3) Switch to the Irish/Scottish model that cars have a duty to allow faster following cars to overtake on ordinary roads. This might be aided by adjusting markings on key roads to create a zone to move into.
4) Look at innovative but simple ideas to integrate light rail and raods on the outskirts of towns eg rail running alongside road with diagnol parking zone down the middle and numerous pick-up points.



This is brilliant just the sort of permissive thinking that would mark a sea change from Labour's nanny state.

I would allow variable speeds on motorways
70 - 100mph in the right hand lane
50 - 80 in the middle lane and
30 - 60 in the left hand lane lorries and caravans to be kept there except for overtaking.
This gives slower careful motorists a safe low speed lane - you should not underestimate this group and allows the rest of us to go legally at speeds our cars can safely use.
Now that we have much stricter enforcement of speed limits it is vital we have a national debate about what those limits should be. 70 was alright when it was "advisory" but is a nonsense if it is actually going to be enforced on a motorway on a dry summers day.

Angelo Basu

The speed limit and traffic light policies sound sensible. As for number plates, I'm finding it hard to get enthused either way. There are some consumer benefits to having an indication of a car's minimum age, although these are minor in that you need to see registration documentation on sale. However, there's something rather nice about getting a new car and being able to show it- even if it is a moment of slight sadness once the number plates change and your pride and joy ceases to be the latest thing. The marking of regional origin is also possibly helpful from a crime perspective in that even if a witness can't remember a number plate they might remember if a car involved in an incident had a non-local prefix. Maybe there is a downside though in that I'm fairly sure that you get treated differently by other road users depending on whether you have a local prefix- but I don't think this is anywhere near as strong as in France where driving a car with Paris plates can be an invitation to be treated with contempt elsewhere.


Some great ideas but they don't go far enough. Here's some improvements:

1. Why have speed limits at all on motorways and A roads. Germany survives without them.
2. Why not enable an ability to turn left on red at traffic lights. And how about a policy to scrap at least 50% of lights, especially in London.
3. Why bother have Car-ID cards, ie vehicle registration at all? You could abolish the licensing system and if needbe make a slight increase in petrol duties to pay for it. And it would be greener.

There is a wider argument that those who own and operate the road should be able to choose the rules that their customers operate under - but that's going a bit further than the policy suggests.

Presumably DC will apply the principles of the A list and seek to ban the walking green man at traffic lights as its offensive to the red man, women and disabled people.

Mark Wadsworth

Re "Crime persepctive" my Dad told me once that apparently the Swedes prefer long and anonymous number plates for exactly that reason.

David Cooper

One other benefit of "countdown" traffic lights is that it would enable drivers to see straight away how far the likes of Red Ken had tinkered with the phasing, so as to engineer delays by purposely limiting the number of cars that could pass through the green before it changed.


All great ideas which I would support. One slight note of caution on variable speed limits - make sure they are run properly!

One stretch of the M25 has this already and it isn't uncommon to see the limit still at 50mph 15 minutes after fog has lifted, with drivers getting caught going 60mph out of sheer frustration at being expected to drive at 50 on a clear motorway.


I think 70 mph is more than fast enough. People driving at higher speed as a result (?) of higher speed limits would increase energy consumption. How about imposing speed limiters on cars instead so they cannot exceed the speed limit and what about reducing the limit to 60 mph. I read an article the other day which said cars are safety engineered for their potential top speeds and not the legal limit. As a result they are heavier and use more fuel than would otherwise be the case.

Sally Roberts

I thought it was already possible to renew your car tax on line - is that not in fact the case?

Jack Bains

Yes Sally - it is much easier than going to the PO with all the e-bayers.

John Allen

Totally agree with the first two proposals.

As for the numberplate/road fund proposal; I would scrap the tax, transfering it onto fossil fuel and hand the job of number plates to the insurance industry.

Further ideas:-
a) make speed limits realistic. By that I mean measuring actual speeds every 100 yards on the review section for a base period with no stated limit. Then setting the limit at 85% fastest measured at the fastest check point. This would also result in built up area limits returning back from their walk out into the countrside.

b) Scrap the whole "eye in the sky" project. saving £40 billion roll out and £6 billion a year. The actual savings would probably be 4 or 5 times greater in practice.

c) Scrap the special car tax on new cars, road tax and motor fuel tax and recoup the lost revenue by a fossil fuel tax. This would encourage bio fuels, tide, wind and sun generated energy take up.

d) Remove all the humps.


I completely applaud this but there should be some kind of law to penalise those who fail to keep their distance from the car in front at such high speeds... I cannot tell you how many idiots there are out there who consider it safe to tail you at 80mph!

Rupert Butler

The number of drivers who customarily exceed the motorway speed limits amount to a democratic rejection of them. This is literally Common Sense in action. Law and custom on the Autobahns allow speed to be virtually uncontrolled, with virtually no effect on the accident rate typical of this sort of road (see Wikipedia).

The way that enforcement officials harvest so much money from the M25
and piously hammer drivers who make full use of empty roads is (again literally) anti-social.

I do not see the advantage of Aristeides' countdown at traffic lights - not worth the cost of changing I should have thought. If drivers at the front are going to be dopey, you invite trouble by gearing up the ones behind to move quickly. Some at the front will be inclined to rush off - these usually get advance notice from the prior change of the transverse lights, so that departing traffic is suitably spread out.

I have no problem with the number plate system, although I think the tax disk is easier to control than the physical number plate. The last change of the numbering system was an exemplary case of bureaucratic introversion: quite perverse not to use both the easily recognisable postcode areas and a more straightforward code for year-and-month.

Andrew Morrison

I was on Bulgaria not long ago, and at night time (this was around 2 am) all the traffic lights flash amber. When this happens, all junctions merely turn into give ways. Of course, night time traffic in the likes of Varna may be much lower than in Britain, but it's something we could do pilot programs with.

What is the point in stopping cars at red lights when there is no traffic moving in the other directions? Cars running their engines not going anywhere are surely environmentally unfriendly?

With regards the motorway speed limit, it should be raised to 80 MPH in light of improvements in brakes and engine power and what not, but we should reduce it to 60 MPH for newly qualified drivers, and furthermore limit the power of a car a newly qualified driver can handle.

This would hopefully put an end to boy racers killing themselves and others by buying 120 HP cars after just passing their tests aged 18 or whatever.

Richard Jenkins

Motorway speed limits need to be more rational, but Taxcutter is incorrect to say that Germany does without them. On German Autobahns there are stretches with limits of 100kph, 120kph, 130kph, as well as stretches that are completely derestricted. The restricted sections tend to be in urban areas and at major intersections. The limits are fixed on a particular stretch, not the idiotic variable limits on the M25 and the M42, which, as RobD pointed out, tend to be showing a limit either higher than traffic will allow, or lower than would be obviously safe.

In summary, what is needed is an intelligent local approach on motorway speed limits, not a single national limit, and what we do not need is the ineffective technology of electronic variable limits.


Traffic light countdown sounds completely daft to me. Most impatient drivers (myself included) if possible look at the changing lights on the other road to judge when to drop the clutch for an instant (half-amber) get away - which is why lights now have elongated hoods to prevent them being seen obliquely. To give us the luxury of a countdown to the light change is pure F1.

If you want a popular traffic light proposal, what about insisting that traffic light on roundabouts are turned off outside peak times or have a flashing-amber system. Every time I get stopped at an empty roundabout on a Sunday morning, I see Ken Livingstone's face in the Red light.


1) I like the idea of raising speed limits, but this should be associated with a shorter validity limit on driving licences, eg. 10 years. I have to renew my lifeguard qualification every 2 years, and the frequency of training and re-examination makes it more natural to meet the required standard in between exams. At the moment, people can pass one test, and be in control of a machine that can kill without ever being reassessed. This might also make it a more acceptable policy to the nanny state sfatey freaks.

2) Why not 2 lights, red and green. If I remember the Highway Code correctly, amber is to stop unless it is not physically possible. These days most drivers accelerate through amber lights, and many skip a red when it first changes. Changing straight to red would give the same message: stop.

3) Changing the plate system would be OK; it might be worth investigating how well America's system works, of not having a front plate, and letting people choose their own numbers.

tim leunig

Raising the speed limit on motorways would be revenue raising, since driving at higher speeds uses more fuel, and fuel is heavily taxed. It might also increase the number of journeys, as people can get places more easily. Again, this is revenue raising.

If people are worried about the global warming implications, then using about 5p of the tax per litre would be sufficient to buy the relevant amount of carbon credits on the EU trading scheme (and retire them, unused) so that the rise in speeds is then carbon neutral.

That still leaves about 45p extra govt revenue to use as it sees fit.


I've seen the traffic light countdown in action in China, it works very well and I'd love to see it in action in the UK.

Turn left on red (or its American equivalent) works well too. Lets get it sorted in the UK.

Why not have a secure RFID which holds license plate information, easier than cameras.

Everybody already drives at 80, lets just make it official.

Annoyed at coming back to your car 3 mins after the time has elapsed and getting a massive fine? Why not have a staggered fine system where the first 10 mins is a tenner, then the second 20 quid etc...

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