Switzerland set to impose 80 km/h speed limits on motorways at peak times
Speaking to the Tages-Anzeiger, the director of the Federal Roads Office (Astra) has suggested that an 80-kilometre-an-hour speed limit will become unavoidable on Swiss motorways during peak times. By 2026, up to 2.380 kilometres of motorways across Swiss cities and cantons will see the lower speed limits implemented during peak hours, traffic jams and other periods of disruption.
Astra tests lower speed limits on Swiss motorways
According to the report, Astra has been testing lower speed limits on Swiss motorways over the past several years, to see if they have an effect on traffic jams. According to the latest Astra data, drivers in Switzerland spend a collective 39.000 hours a year in traffic jams, a figure which has doubled in the last decade. Most delays are blamed on the sheer number of vehicles on the road.
After the testing of a 60 km / h motorway speed limit was scrapped, Astra found that a temporary limit of 80 km / h was the most effective at reducing traffic jams. Experts explained that having cars drive slower reduces traffic by slowing the throughput of vehicles on the road. Lower speed limits are also known to reduce the risk of road accidents.
80 km / h speed limits coming to motorways in Switzerland
With their tests complete, Astra director Jürg Röthlisberger told the Tages-Anzeiger that the lower speed limit will soon become a part of driving in the alpine nation. “In a few years we will probably not be able to avoid ordering a speed limit of 80 throughout the Mittelland during rush hours to prevent permanent traffic jams", he told the newspaper.
Astra’s plan is for the 80 km / h speed limit to be used on all major roads in Switzerland during “peak times” - defined by the government as between 6 and 9am, and 4 and 7pm. The limits will be enforced by electronic traffic signalling systems, which should be present on 2.380 kilometres of Swiss motorways by 2026.
Astra spokesperson Thomas Rohrbach said that along with limiting speeds during rush hour, they will be able to flexibly lower the speed limit whenever needed. "Factors such as school holidays, public holidays or events such as trade fairs, concerts or sporting events can also have an influence on this", he noted.
Mixed response from Swiss transport associations
When asked how popular the measure would be, Röthlisberger said “10 years ago [it] would have been impossible; people would have eaten us alive”, but that now the general public acknowledges the need for action to combat traffic jams. André Kirchhofer, director of the Swiss Commercial Vehicle Association, said that while he still thinks Switzerland needs to expand its road network dramatically, the idea “can actually help to improve traffic flow.”
Others are not so convinced, with Jonas Montani from Touring Club Switzerland (TCS) saying that he regretted the idea, arguing that the lower speed limit will not solve the problem on its own. Automotive Club of Switzerland secretary Fabien Produit said the plan was acceptable, "but only if it serves to prevent traffic jams and is not applied across the board."
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