Maria Caulfield, MP for Lewes, has today been honoured with a parliamentarian road safety award by Brake, the road safety charity, and Direct Line Group.
The award recognises Maria’s efforts to improve road safety on country lanes for all road users. Maria has been campaigning on this issue following a serious collision in her constituency in which Beverley Berrill was knocked off her horse by a speeding driver. The crash resulted in Ms Berrill being hospitalised for ten days and her horse being put down.
As part of the campaign, Maria presented a petition in Parliament, signed by over 1,500 local residents, calling on country lanes in Ditchling, Streat and Westmeston to be designated quiet lanes to improve safety for all road users.
Brake has long called for safer speed limits through its Pace for People campaign. Whilst some progress has been made on urban speed, with increasing numbers of 20mph zones across the UK, country roads remain a high-risk environment. Most country roads in the UK have a 60mph limit, the national default for single carriageway roads, however, such roads are often unsuitable for high speeds as they are narrow, with blind bends, and no pavements or cycle paths. Local councils are permitted to set lower limits in certain areas but any deviation from the default speed can be costly to implement. Brake is seeking a reduction in the national default limit to deliver slower, safer roads.
Joshua Harris, Director of Campaigns for Brake, the road safety charity, said:
“Maria’s efforts to improve road safety on country lanes should be applauded and Brake is delighted to recognise her important work with this award.”
“Shockingly, 40% of all road deaths in Britain happen on country roads, and the cause is often speed-related. The Government must act to put a halt to this carnage through a reduction of the national default 60mph limit on single carriageway roads to 50mph. Slower speeds save lives and help make our streets more liveable environments for all road users.”
Accepting her award, Maria Caulfield MP said:
“This is such an important issue for local residents in the rural parts of my constituency, as is shown by the high number of people who have signed my petition. I was pleased to be able to present this petition and show this strength of feeling in the House of Commons. I’d like to pass on my thanks to the many residents who have signed the petition. I am grateful to Brake, the road safety charity, for picking up on this issue and helping to highlight the dangers that residents face on country lanes.”
Gus Park, Managing Director of Motor Insurance at Direct Line Group, said:
“We applaud Maria for her work campaigning for safer roads in and around Lewes. There are still too many accidents on rural roads. The government should look at default speed limits. But speed limits are only limits. Drivers should ensure that they are driving at a safe speed regardless of the speed limit – and in narrow, winding country lanes, that may be well below the legal speed limit.”