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An assessment framework for a speed policy

For many years (to be precise since 1957) a ‘speed limit’ has been applied on Dutch motorways. Such a speed limit forms the main basis of a speed policy. Then road users will have a basic indicator of the maximum speed allowed on the concerning road. So you can state that the main focus of determining a good speed policy lies in setting an appropriate, safe, and credible speed limit. However the credibility of a speed limit is often not understood. A credible speed limit is defined as a speed limit that matches the image that is evoked by the road and the traffic situation. If a speed limit is not credible enough, road users will drive more and more their own preferred speed. And if a speed limit is experienced as being inplausible too often, the trust in the speed limit system as a whole will be harmed. So it is important to strive for a credible speed limit as much as possible.

Today the Dutch cabinet provides in implementing a maximum speed limit of 130 km/h on Dutch motorways as much as possible. As said before this is because the current maximum speed limits do not meet the road image and the needs of the road user any more. As a consequence research is needed to the circumstances where and when other speed limits (or maybe a dynamic speed limit) will be acceptable and how to assess this. In other words, what maximum speed is the best one for what road section taking a good traffic flow, the environmental targets and safety issues into mind. In order to do the research an assessment framework for a new speed policy needs to be developed. So the objective in this study is to develop an assessment framework for the speed policy on Dutch motorways comparing both the road user- and the road manager-perspective. With this assessment framework a new speed policy for the Netherlands can be determined that meets the road image and the needs of the road user more closely than the current speed policy in the Netherlands. In a case study this assessment framework will be tested.

Start date: September 5, 2011
End date: August 1, 2012

Research topic:
Traffic management

Research question:
Speed limits and their effects

An assessment framework for the speed policy on Dutch motorways