In an open letter to the federal government, traffic experts call for speed reductions on Austrian roads. There are “good scientific reasons” for a limit of 30 km/h in urban areas, 80 km/h on rural roads and 100 km/h on highways.
The fact that lowering the permitted speed limit is the most efficient measure to reduce traffic-related greenhouse gas emissions, the most effective measure to reduce road traffic injuries and deaths, and one of the most effective measures to reduce dependency on fossil fuels has been “scientifically proven beyond any doubt” in the open letter.
Scientists are also calling for more controls
This is also addressed to the National Council and the Länder and was prepared by Günter Emberger (Research Department for Transport Planning and Traffic Engineering, TU Vienna), Martin Berger (Research Department for Transport System Planning, TU Vienna), Astrid Gühnemann (Institute for Transport Studies, Boku) and Markus Mailer (Working Department of Intelligent traffic systems, University of Innsbruck).
For these reasons, not only speed limits should be lowered. The scientists advocate an increase in the frequency of checks to ensure compliance with maximum permitted speeds, a reduction in measurement tolerances for radar checks to the technically necessary minimum, an abolition of state-specific “penalty tolerances” and a nationwide standardization of penalties and their increase “to increase the preventive effect”.
2.4 million less CO₂ emissions
According to the scientists, the required speed reduction could reduce CO₂ emissions from motor traffic by about 2.4 million tons or ten percent compared to 2019. With the same transport performance, 900,000 tons or ten percent less fossil fuel would be used. In addition, about 116 people (28 percent) less would be killed and nearly 7,000 (19 percent) less injured.
A 100 km/h limit on motorways would result in an individual time loss of approximately eleven minutes per 100 kilometres. On the other hand, there is a cost saving of up to 2.8 euros at this distance. In addition, there is an “enormous economic benefit in the form of saved accident, noise and environmental costs”.
For Emberger, it is “clear that we need to rethink our mobility in view of the approaching climate catastrophe”. Reducing the speed limit is a step in this direction that is easy to implement and quickly effective. In a press release, the expert points out that the energy requirement decreases with speed, whether it is an internal combustion engine or an electric motor.
Berger mentions other advantages of a lower speed: This also means less noise, less particulate matter from tire and brake wear, less nitrogen oxides and fewer traffic accidents. “This is one of the main reasons why we are not only proposing a reduction in speed limits on motorways, but also want a general speed reduction, including on open roads and in urban areas,” Mailer emphasizes.
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