Thursday 5 January 2012

Say what: BMW owner threatens to sue local authorities over speed limit

Before you click the “Read more” button, keep in mind that the driver owns a BMW and that she’s a woman.

Last October, UK Transport Secretary Philip Hammond suggested increasing the national motorway speed limit from 70mph to 80mph (112km/h to 128km/h). His case was that laws should mirror today’s reality and that shortening journey times would have a positive outcome on the environment.

Seemingly, this comes at a price. In exchange for adopting this plan, 27 local authorities want to apply a 20mph (32km/h) speed limit on all roads passing through residential areas, with the omission of major through-routes, by 2013.

A British newspaper reports that Diane Greenwood, an owner of a BMW 320d, says that if the 20mph limit is compulsory in her home county of Lancashire, she will sue the local council for damages caused to her car!

“In fourth gear, my car tries to push 22mph, so I have to change down to third, which uses more fuel and puts more of a strain on the car”, said the mother of two children.

“I’m all in favour of 20mph limits outside schools, but the roads around here are nice and wide, so not only is it pointless but it actually negates what they’re trying to achieve. It’s all very well saying I should get a smaller car, but I’ve only had my BMW for a year and it’s my pride and joy – why should I buy a small car if I don’t want one?”

“If anything happens to my car, I’m going to sue the council and force them to cover the costs – it’s a matter of principle as far as I’m concerned”, Greenwood added.

The manager of the “20’s Plenty for Us” campaign, Anna Semlyen, said that Greenwood’s complaints were based on prejudice and not facts: “If she’s a BMW driver, she’s not that interested in the environment, is she? BMW drivers generally have them for status reasons.”

Semlyen added that “BMWs are made in Germany where many towns have a speed limit of 30km/h (18.6mph), so if they can’t cope with 20 mph it doesn’t say much for the German car industry. She’s just ignorant and she wouldn’t win even if she did try to sue.”

The campaign claims that 20mph zones can cut casualties by more than a fifth and reduce emissions by 12%, while average journey times would be increased by just 40 seconds.

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