In March 2020, the Netherlands introduced a new maximum speed on the highways: 100km/h (instead of 120 or 130km/h) between 6am and 7pm.
I thought it sucked. As much as I like visiting places, I hate the transfer-part of travelling. Being Dutch, I often travel to the Netherlands, so I was really unhappy with that new law.
But over the last two years, I have come to not only accept but even appreciate it. And reading about it has convinced me of the necessity of the maximum speed of 100km/h. In fact, I think it should be applied in Luxembourg as well.
High speed danger
First and foremost, for safety reasons. As we unfortunately read about traffic accidents several times per week, I am sure that Luxembourgers are in want of better road safety. According to the official data, speeding was the leading cause of accidents in Luxembourg in 2021. 38% of fatal accidents and 31% of crashes were caused by 'inappropriate speed'.
Research shows that safety on the Dutch roads greatly improved in 2020 thanks to the reduced maximum speed. Of course, Covid played a big part in this. With people being in lock-down and working from home, there was obviously less traveling and because of that fewer accidents. No one denies that.
But the huge drop in accidents in that year was also a direct result of the new maximum speed. The decline in the number of accidents was a lot steeper on roads which previously allowed a maximum of 120 km/h (-56% fewer accidents) than on roads that already had that limit (-31% fewer accidents).
In other words, reducing the maximum speed hugely increased road safety.
In addition, the Tech University in Delft has calculated that every single kilometre over 100 km/h leads to 3 to 4 percent more deadly victims. I've never been good in physics, but I have read that it boils down to a simple law: apparently, the energy of a crash is calculated by half the weight of the vehicle times the speed squared - a crash becomes increasingly harder and more dangerous per kilometre, when surpassing 100km/h.
And it is not just speed itself. The risk of accidents is a lot bigger when allowed to drive 120km/h or 130km/h because of the variation of speed between different vehicles. Trucks drive between 80km/h and 90km/h and cars between 100km/h and 130km/h.
These differences are one of the causes of accidents. So, closing that gap and forcing all vehicles to drive more or less the same speed, will create much safer roads.
Save money and the environment
Driving 100km/h instead of 130km/h is also a lot cheaper. It leads to an economisation of fuel of up to 25%! I realize that people may find that to be a personal choice, but this is about more than wanting the freedom to decide how much fuel one wants to burn.
It's an environmental issue as well. Driving a little slower means using fewer natural resources and a lowering nitrogen deposition. With the environment in the critical state that it is in, we can’t afford not to change our maximum speed. It’s as simple as that.
Very little difference in getting home
And please do not respond with arguments about how a higher speeds get you home so much quicker. The difference between 130km/h and 100km/h does very little for that.
In theory a 50km drive at 130km/h would take you home in 23 minutes. If you are limited to 100km/h, it will take you 30 minutes. But this calculation is not realistic as it is impossible to drive maximum speed from door to door.
In fact, I've read that on average the speed on a 130km/h road is 122km/h and on a 100km/h road is 102km/h. For 50km/h that would mean a longer travel time of only 5 minutes. Five minutes!
Zen behind the wheel
These five minutes of longer traveling allow you to drive a lot more calmly, peacefully, and less aggressively. I have realised that I arrive a lot more relaxed and in a pleasant mood after a drive at that speed than when I am constantly driving 130km/h.
And this is proved by research on the Dutch traffic situation in the last two years: people drive slower and are calmer.
Making 100km/h the maximum speed limit in Luxembourg would save us money, lower the nitrogen deposition, help us reduce the use of natural resources and, most importantly, make our roads so much safer.
Come to think of it, it is actually crazy that this isn't already the law. What are we waiting for?