to touch or not to touch the speed limits

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The rise in fuel prices, up for months now, but deeply accentuated after the arrival of Russian troops in Ukraine, has fueled the debate on cutting speed limits on highways. In an attempt to alleviate the drift in rates, voices are emerging at the international level that focus on the use of the accelerator. In Germany, the Green Party, part of the coalition that propelled Olaf Scholz to the chancellorship, has already raised apply a limit on the country’s highwaysthe International Energy Agency (IEA) has included it in his recipe” to reduce the use of oil and in the United Kingdom there experts pointing in the same direction.

IEA calculations conclude that if we reduced the limits by 10 kilometers per hour we would be able to save about 290,000 barrels of oil per day in automobiles, to which another 140,000 related to heavy transport would be added. The estimate –explains the IEA— is for “advanced economies”, in the short term and provided that the measure is “feasible and culturally acceptable”, but it gives an idea of ​​the impact that touching road signs would have.

A “simple and quick” measure

Along similar lines, the German Green Party also stresses that rethinking the use of roads would be “good for protecting the climate, resources and road safety.” “It’s being discussed if it’s something we’re going to address next,” slipped recently from the German Environment Ministry. The debate is not new there. Moreover, the idea of ​​setting a limit on the Autobahn has been on the table for a long time and has not yet achieved a unanimous consensus in society, although in recent years groups such as the ADAC drivers’ association have softened his rejection.

The debate on the roads is also on the table in the United Kingdom. The newspaper on Friday Financial Times public a letter signed by half a dozen expertsincluding a director of European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) highlighting the benefits of cutting speed limits to reduce imports of Russian oil into the EU. “Needed an urgent action“, emphasize the authors, who emphasize that rethinking the use of the accelerator would be “relatively simple, fast” and effective in achieving the “short-term” objective.

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The article recalls that two years ago The Netherlands has already reduced the speed limit on its highways at 100 km/h during the day to curb pollution. “A car traveling at 100 km/h is 25% more efficient than at 130 km/h”, they argue. The list of territories that have taken steps in this direction over the last few years also includes Brussels, Paris or the UK itself. The expert proposal is that the EU commits to “urgently” reduce speed to 100 km/h on motorways, 80 on rural roads and 30 on rural roads.

Spain also has its own history of speed cuts. Eleven years ago, the Government, then led by José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, decided to apply a “temporary reduction” on the highways and expressways of the country and lower the maximum gear allowed 120 to 110 km/h.

Sascha Bosshard 3eamzh5l1re Unsplash

The objective was very similar to what is being sought now: “save gasoline” in the face of rising prices. The accounts of the Executive concluded that the measure would save 15% in gasoline consumption and 11% in diesel, with a millionaire cut in imports. The initiative was applied for four months, from March to the end of June, and although it managed to reduce consumption, it did not reach the starting estimates: the use of gasoline fell by 8% and that of diesel somewhat less. In 2021 the Government rechecked the speedsalthough focusing on urban roads and with another priority objective: to improve safety in areas with the highest pedestrian flow.

Touching the speed limits is not, in any case, the only option to mitigate price escalation. In Europe, governments have begun to make a move in the face of rising bills. In France, the Executive has announced a discount of 15 cents per liter which will begin to be applied in April and will continue for four months, in Germany consider a subsidy to reduce fuel costs and thus alleviate their impact on the economy of families and businesses and Sweden will apply a package of measures that contemplates a carbon tax reduction.

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Similar policies have been adopted in Italy, which has just passed a decree to reduce excise duties by 25 cents in the price of gasoline and diesel, or Portugal, which has been subsidizing spending for months in fuel with the refund of part of the Tax on Petroleum Products. Here in Spain, the Government It also studies how to mitigate the blow of fuels in the economy and has advanced since it will address energy measures in the council of ministers that will be held at the end of this month, on Tuesday, March 29.

At the community level there are also movements and —in addition to aid to deal with rising prices or rethinking speed limits— some countries are exploring alternatives. Italy, for example, has just announced a millionaire plan to encourage electric cars. The IEA itself completes its “recipe” with other complementary proposals to the reduction of speed, such as a greater commitment to teleworking, giving up the car on Sundays in the cities, betting on EVs, making public transport cheaper and encouraging the use of high-speed trains instead of the plane.

Images | Norbert Braun (Unsplash) and Sascha Bosshard (Unsplash)

The rise in fuel prices, up for months now, but deeply accentuated after the arrival of Russian troops in Ukraine,…

The rise in fuel prices, up for months now, but deeply accentuated after the arrival of Russian troops in Ukraine,…

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