7 November 2011
Brake, the road safety charity
Brake reacted with horror at the news of Friday's M5 motorway crash, which ended the lives of seven people and caused many more serious injuries.
Brake's thoughts are with those families affected by the crash, and Brake's support services are being offered to families via police. Brake's helpline provides emotional support and practical help to anyone who has been bereaved or seriously injured in a road crash: 0845 603 8570.
Julie Townsend, campaigns director at Brake, says: "This is a terrible and cruel disaster and our thoughts are with the many families affected. Crashes on this scale are mercifully rare, but road casualties, and the suffering that ensues, are not. We must remind ourselves that tragic and preventable deaths and injuries are a daily occurrence on our roads; they mostly do not make headlines, but they are all catastrophic for those who fall victim.
"The police investigation into the causes of this crash will take some time, but whatever the conclusions, our response must be to work harder to prevent needless tragedies on our motorways and across our road network. To do this, we can draw on a large body of academic evidence on what the main risks are on roads and what is most effective in tackling crashes and injuries. And we should view this work as an important investment to prevent human suffering, and to reduce the huge burden of road crashes on health and emergency services.
"In particular, we appeal to the government to respond to this crash by abandoning proposals to raise the motorway speed limit to 80mph. This is an abhorrent policy that would make our motorways more dangerous, more polluting, and fail to deliver benefits to journey times. We do not need to wait for the results of the police investigation into the M5 crash to tell us that raising the motorway limit is bad for road safety – we already have plenty of evidence showing this would be a desperately inhumane move, leading to more devastating crashes and casualties, and more suffering like that experienced by the victims of Friday's disaster."
18 people are killed or seriously injured each week on Britain's motorways. 
It is estimated that raising the motorway speed limit to 80mph would result in 5-10% more casualties on these roads. 
Read Brake's statement on proposals to raise the motorway speed limit, including evidence on why we should not adopt this policy
Read Julie Townsend's blog article in response to the M5 crash
 Reported Road Casualties Great Britain 2010 (Department for Transport 2009)
 Road Traffic Speed, ninth report, Transport Select Committee, 2002