Raising the speed limit from 110 km/h on the safest parts of Sweden’s motorway (freeway) network could be one part of a whole package of measures to make the country’s roads safer. This would be combined with lower speed limits on more dangerous roads.
“If you reduce speed limits on some roads, then you should raise them on other roads, so that journey times don’t become too long,” Jan Erik Reiyer, who is in charge of preparing the SNRA’s proposal to the government, told The Local.
Sweden already has some of the safest roads in the word, with 5.3 road deaths per 100,000 inhabitants in 2003, according to OECD figures. This compares with 14.8 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants in Poland.
Despite Sweden’s success in preventing deaths on the roads, the government has established the “Vision Zero” programme, which has the long-term aim for nobody to die on Swedish roads.
The SNRA’s proposals are likely to target those roads with most accidents.
“The most dangerous roads are those in built-up areas. Roads with lots of junctions and unprotected cyclists and pedestrians are the worst,” said Reyier.
“Motorways are absolutely outstanding from a safety perspective,” he added.
Around ten people are killed on Sweden’s motorways each year. On average, another four people a year would die on the motorways if the speed limit was raised to 120 km/h.
Overall, however, the SNRA, which is in charge of maintaining Sweden’s highway system, expects that the changes to speed limits could lead to “several dozen” fewer people dying on the roads every year.
It is not yet certain that the latest proposals will be put to the government. The SNRA is looking at a number of alternatives, which include keeping the current speed limits.
The organisation’s management will decide in August what measures to recommend, although Reyier says that a reduction in the motorway speed limit is not on the table. He also denies a report in Svenska Dagbladet that a 140 km/h speed limit could be recommended.
“That is nothing that has been discussed,” he said.