Relationship between Speed Limit and Environmental Sustainability

Relationship between Speed Limit and Environmental Sustainability


Relationshipbetween Speed Limit and Environmental Sustainability

Thereis a strong relationship between road user safety and reduction isgreenhouse effects (Spielmann,de Haan and Scholz, 2008). Road user safety mainly revolves aroundspeed limits. Some studies have argued that high-speed limits willlead to the reduction in fuel consumed by vehicles resulting to thesustainable use of natural resources. However, Chapman (2007), pointout that lower speed limits have several benefits in terms ofenvironmental sustainability. The study carried out by Spielmann, deHaan and Scholz reveals that vehicles travelling at lower speedproduce fewer emissions such as NOx and CO2, which bring aboutgreenhouse effects (2008). According to these three researchers, as avehicle`s speed increases the rate of consumption increases as wellas the emissions of greenhouse gases.

Accordingto Creutzig and He (2009), road user safety policies that embracelower speed limits are highly economical in terms of fuelconsumption. The recent trend of car ownership indicates that as timegoes by, many more people will own cars leading to congestion on theroads. More vehicles will also need more fuel, posing a threat tosustainable utilization of gasoline reservoirs. One of the strategiesto ensure sustainable consumption of fuels for transport purposes isan implementation of road user safety policies that embrace lowerspeed limits (Creutzig and He, 2009). Lower speed limits mean lowerconsumption of fuels, resulting in less demand for fuels hencepreventing depletion of environmental resources such as gasoline andpetroleum.

Thereare various negative impacts of high-speed technologies onenvironmental sustainability (Spielmann, de Haan and Scholz, 2008).The technologies are making it almost impossible to achieve thetargets for greenhouse gas reduction. A recent study by EnvironmentalProtection Agency (EPA) predicts that CO2 emissions will have nearlydoubled in the next thirty years as a result of high-speedtechnologies. According to May,Tranter and Warn (2010), lower speed limits are efficient not only inreducing the rate of fuel consumption but also reducing emissions ofgreenhouse gases such as C02 and NOx. There is a great need fornations to embrace road user safety policies that sensitize on theimportance of low-speed limits to ensure environmentalsustainability, economic growth and enhanced health.

Accordingto Creutzig and He, as speed increases, fuel efficiency decreases(2009). For instance, when a vehicle is travelling at a velocityabove 60mph, it is estimated to increase fuel cost by 30% per gallon.Besides, high speeds are associated with higher emissions ofgreenhouse gases due to increased fuel combustion rates. Therefore,lower speed is not only are fuel efficient but also environmentalfriendly in terms of reduction of the greenhouse effect. Anotherapparent benefit of lower speed limits is the decreased number ofaccidents and fatalities. However, environmentalists argue that roaduser safety policies that embrace lower speed limits will discouragemanufacturers from generating environmental-friendly vehicles.

Throughthe implementation of environmental-friendly road user safetypolicies, nations will make a significant step in reducing greenhouseeffects and global warming (Chapman, 2007). If speed limits wereregulated back to 55miles per hour, nations would save a lot in termsof importing fuel from the Persian Gulf. According to Chapman, backin 1975 when speed limits were 55mph in the United States, fuelconsumption was low, and greenhouse gas emissions were at amanageable level. However, with the latest high-speed technologies,fuel consumption has become uneconomical and environmentalsustainability impossible to attain.


Chapman,L. (2007). Transport and climate change: a review.&nbspJournalof transport geography,&nbsp15(5),354-367.

Creutzig,F., &amp He, D. (2009). Climate change mitigation and co-benefits offeasible transport demand policies in Beijing.&nbspTransportationResearch Part D: Transport and Environment,&nbsp14(2),120-131.

May,M., Tranter, P., &amp Warn, J. (2010). Climate change, peak oil androad safety: finding synergisms to challenge the dominance of speed.In Australasian Transport Research Forum 2010 Proceedings.

Spielmann,M., de Haan, P., &amp Scholz, R. W. (2008). Environmental reboundeffects of high-speed transport technologies: a case study ofclimate change rebound effects of a future underground maglev trainsystem.&nbspJournalof Cleaner Production,&nbsp16(13),1388-1398.