speed-limitEarlier today, the European Parliament voted in favour of a draft law that would tighten noise limits for all cars sold in Europe. The law argues that: “Persistent exposure to high levels of traffic noise can prove physically draining, disrupt organ functions and contribute to cardiovascular and other diseases.”

The draft legislation (which still has to be approved by national ministers before it is adopted into law) would also set a minimum noise level for hybrid and electric cars.

Would you support new legislation to set strict noise limits for cars sold in the EU? Are your organ functions regularly disrupted by noisy street racers zooming through your neighbourhood at 2am? Do you lie awake worrying about the silent (but deadly) threat posed by electric cars? Or are car manufacturers struggling enough without new restrictions being imposed on them? And is this anyway an issue better handled at the national level?

Recently, we spoke to Isabelle Durant, a Belgian Green MEP and a substitute member of the European Parliament’s Committee on Transport and Tourism. We took some of your transport questions to her, to see how she would respond.

First of all, we began with a comment from Giovanni, who argued that:

More can be done at government level to develop policies to maximize the use of public transport and non motorized transport.

As a Green MEP, how would Isabelle Durant respond?

We also had a comment from John, who wondered what could be done to make transportation safer in Europe.

Indeed, a European Citizens’ Initiative has recently been launched calling for a default 30 km/h speed limit in residential areas across the EU. The ECI argues that:

The EU has clear road safety and environmental goals but these are not yet met. A 30km/h (20mph) standard speed limit would help to implement them more efficiently as it has proven successful in reducing injuries and fatalities, noise, air pollution and CO2 emissions, and improving the traffic flow. People can travel with less fear. Environmentally friendlier modes become more attractive. To meet the subsidiarity principle, the local authorities must have the final decision to set other speed limits on their roads and implement equivalent alternatives to meet the goals.

Isn’t this clearly breaching the principle of subsidiarity? Aren’t decisions about speed limits in residential areas better taken by local governments, which know better than anybody else the local environment and conditions?

What do YOU think? Should there be a single EU speed limit of 30 km/h in residential areas? Or is this something better decided at a local level, without resorting to an EU-wide limit? Would you support stricter rules on noise limits for motor vehicles, or do you think car manufacturers are under enough pressure already? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy makers and experts for their reaction.

P.S. If you support setting a standard limit of 30 km/h, you can sign the ECI online here

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – jpctalbot


46 comments Post a commentcomment


  1. avatar
    Cem Ozan

    EU must dealt with more important subjects leave it to local to sort out speed limit

    • avatar
      Tilda Jonson

      I think 10 000 deaths or severely injured per year in European cities ARE an important issue for the EU.
      And it makes sense to have a standardised speed limit throughout Europe because thousands of people are abroad in the EU every day. If everybody is used to the same safety standards this will be a great improvement.

  2. avatar
    Borislav Valkov

    The road quality in Romania and Bulgaria is not the same as is in Germany that means it is stupid to have equal speed limits.

    • avatar
      Marco Silva

      I partly agree with your statement. It wouldn’t make Romanian and Bulgarian roads safer having the same speed limit that one can find in Germany. After all, Romanian and Bulgarian roads aren’t by themselves so well designed and well kept as German, so driving at the same “high” speeds in these Eastern countries as in Germany would (as shown) be fatal for many people. Moreover, the driving schools in Romania are lagging behind on the standards find in other EU countries, so one can not expect skilled and conscious drivers on the road, generally speaking.

      I do think that limiting the speed to 30 Km/h in cities such as Bucharest and Sofia would certainly contribute for a better life of those who live in the city. In such fast-growing cities where the traffic has been increasing dramatically, setting a lower speed limit would make them safer and healthier, and potentially revert this unsustainable trend of driving a car for the sake of hypothetical comfort.

  3. avatar
    Igor Clk

    30 km/h, are you kidding me? How about, you get out of the car and you push it until you’re through the residential area… at least you save some fuel… (and this comes from a person who drives very rarely…)

    • avatar
      Marco Silva

      5 Km x 60 m / 30 Km = 10 m Even if we had other 5 m because of traffic lights, zebras and other stops along the average distance city dwellers travel between home and their office and so on, we get 15 m.

      I think it’s quite acceptable considering that the average walking speed is around 4 Km/h and biking might be approximately 15 Km/h. It all depends the road conditions of course. I wish they would favour bikes so that it would be faster to commute by bike then car, though.

  4. avatar
    Vilt Mihai-Ionut

    Come on… 30 km/h? how about better enforcement of regular speed limits? Furthermore i don’t think its the EU’s job to enforce local issues. I think it should bother itself with more important issues.

  5. avatar
    Evans Fu

    Roads are different, applying the same speed limit to all would be idiotic

  6. avatar
    Christos Mouzeviris

    I agree that we have more important issues to deal with right now, though I do not see any harm or having a common EU speed limit across the EU, to try to limit the deaths from car accidents. Just make sure that when you decide on which this limit might be, take in consideration the differences in Europe’s landscapes and climates… One can not drive the same on an icy road up in the north, or a curvy one down the Mediterranean…

  7. avatar
    Hasan Özdemir

    The EU should ensure certain standards concerning every life land, if it wants to acquire a wholeness between all member countries. But the speed limit might be 50 km/h in my opinion.

  8. avatar
    Adrian Szkudlarek

    30 km per hour?! The owner of that idea don’t know anything about polish roads :-( I agree that it should be depend on local law.

  9. avatar
    Semira Pashmineh-azar

    EU should give priority to the problems in order to solve them one by one ie/there are much more important issues to be solved urgently !!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. avatar
    Vicente Silva Tavares

    Of course not. EU should worry about the most important things like economy, developing, control of Banks, defence, foreign policy and so on. Not ruling about minor things, actually stealing the little power left to the towns and cities of Europe.

  11. avatar
    Vicente Silva Tavares

    Christiane, I would like to see you riding a bike in Lisbon or in my hometown of Albufeira. All ups and downs. And, in Summer, arriving at work, all wet and smelly of sweat. How nice….

    • avatar
      Marco Silva

      How nice would be to see citizens from Lisboa and Albufeira using more the public transportation systems to commute daily and walk and bike when going for their “bica” around the corner in the weekends. This would definitely increase their quality of life and make the transportation companies to deliver better services. Considering that the majority of the Portuguese public transportation companies are private, the more demand there is the more supply there will be.

      Simply put, a adult person wights around say 80 Kg and a common city car approximately 800 Kg. Bearing this in mind it’s not hard to realize that the fuel one fills the car with is mostly burnt to move the car which is 10 times heavier than the, most likely, one person inside. One doesn’t need to have an Albert Einstein approach to conclude that this module is tremendously inefficient.

      I would make some budgeting demo too in order to show how much cheaper it is to use public transportation, but I consider that this is something that we all Portuguese must have become experts on and many EU citizens have been doing in the last years. If lack of time and insufficient comfort become an issue when using public transportation, then one might have to reflect upon his/hers overall life style, I believe.

  12. avatar
    Iulian Basescu

    it would be better to asses whether a road is or isn’t in a residential area … in Romania there are “residential areas” with only 1 house per km, no subway, no train, no tram, no bus, no way of going with a bike at -20 C (in winter) / +35 C (in summer) or worse even in heavy populated areas, 10 or 20 wild dogs that might bite you if you’re going alone that street (with or without a bike) … // … let the locals chose the speed, but enforce the residential area definition and pedestrian safety + help locals improve the public transit systems ;)

    • avatar
      Marco Silva

      In my opinion, Iulian makes a very important point here. What is considered a residential area by EU? Considering speed limit practices adopted in the Nordic countries, residential areas are neighborhoods within the cities where there is a big concentration of houses or pedestrians. Commercial neighborhoods are an example. If this is what EU means, then many people commenting here would possibly reconsider their opinions.

      Another point which I think is highly paramount is ensuring the respect of current and future road rules. Although many laws are set, many of them are also not respected by drivers throughout EU mainly due to an ineffective control of the traffic by the police and doubtful implementation of fines when justified. In a nutshell, corruption among traffic police. An area which EU should definitely act upon.

  13. avatar
    Cristian Zarnescu

    The way to have a better Europe for all of us is; 1 Learn more on subjects of your interest; info in You tube or Facebook specialist pages ussually key in” the truth about … ” and you will receive a lot of pages; 2 Lern to see what is tru fact and waht is lie or propaganda as is pleanty; Share the knowledge so more of us start to have a clear and better understanting of real situation we are in; 3. Write petitions, speak up; this way pressure politicians to do the right thing, otherwise they will keep get money from pharma, weaponry, chemical, oil corporate lobby and bribes from banksters to do not regulate them, and will create more laws to make the rich richer and all of us will continue to get more rules and regulations, less freedom, less human rights, more tax and less happiness; WANT A HAPPY EUROPE AND HAPPY LIFE FOR ALL OF US; LEARN & SPEAK UP! Here is a good place to start http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=EU+truth+&oq=EU+truth+&gs_l=youtube.3…12236.12399.0.12641.2.2.0.0.0.0.114.174.1j1.2.0…0.0…1ac.1.ldOnHspzHcs

  14. avatar
    Paul X

    I think the overwhelming response here is that (yet again) the EU is sticking it’s nose in where it would be best kept out

    Apart from that, you can set whatever speed limit you want but it is utterly pointless unless you have a police force who are prepared (or can be bothered) to enforce it

  15. avatar
    catherine benning

    This is a very serious issue, and yes, it should be 50 mph maximum on motorways and 20 mph on residential highways. It will half the deaths from auto accidents overnight.

    And for those who think it is ridiculous, you get out there and cut the bodies out of the wreckage. Or go for the act of nursing those close to death for their desire to drive way above the speed of their ability. Most people behind the wheel of automobiles are incompetent nut heads, especially those driving trucks, lorries and vans. They try to keep up with the Fararri and when they can’t get angry and deliberately create chaos from their stupidity.

    It is a horrendous situation driving at full speed on the Mway only to be flashed like crazy from the maniac behind who wants to overtake at a hundred mph. or more. He’s the guy who creates the massive hold up ahed of you as he ran into black ice and overturned on top of the innocent family who were driving responsibly Carnage is what speed creates, so stop it. Yes!

    • avatar
      Paul X

      Quite right Catherine but a speed limit is only as good as the people who enforce it, it doesn’t matter how low you make it people will break it

      If we want real safety then make it 5mph and have someone walking in front with a red flag

  16. avatar
    IgnoRantJack

    No need for this to be decided at the EU level, that just seems like centralisation for centralisations sake and I don’t think it’s a good idea to give the europhobes another cause to proselytise over. Quite frankly this isn’t that important… especially when satnav’s, which are becoming more and more prevalent, tell you the speed limit at any given time. Far better these things are done at as local a level as is practical really.

    • avatar
      IgnoRantJack

      In case you didn’t read the question I believe the issue being discussed is a centrally decided uniform speed limit, not the actual speed limits themselves. Stop trolling.

    • avatar
      catherine benning

      That’s hilarious you describing anyone as a troll. Count your endless posts on every subject, all set up with the trolling of an expert. How do you find the time?

      Only someone paid to push a political viewpoint would spend hours daily plugging their party line they way you do. Otherwise, they woud be working to make a living elsewhere wouldn’t they?

      You lobbyists are faximilies, you cannot abide a true personal viewpoint that does not go along with your platform. Can you? Not even on this subject of road speed. Even that must be stultified. And most especially when it is voiced by the female of the species.

      Contol is an odd form of egotism.

  17. avatar
    Erdélyi István

    Local regulaion is needed: in Germany I wish to drive with 230 but in Hungary much slower because the German driver allows me drive but the Hungarian patriot :-) sometimes enjoys preventing me to drive a normal speed. The Bible should be enjoyed :-) For example the New World version…

  18. avatar
    Limbidis Adrian

    30km/h…
    seriously? Might as well get out of the car and push it, it might go faster.

    I am getting the impression that EU lawmakers are trying to fix the house by painting the small dog house red. That is to say, we are focusing on incredibly unimportant stuff while the EU is shaking hard from the crisis.

    I also don’t appreciate too much meddling into *local* affairs to such an extent.

  19. avatar
    Wilhelm Unrau

    Die EU sollte sich aus nationalen und regionalen Regelungen raushalten, weniger Regulierungswut ist mehr.

  20. avatar
    Stefanescu Dan

    ca la ma?inile de mare vitez?! trebuie l?rgit ampatamentul pentru a asigura stabilitate la viteze f. mari(mai lat ca la ru?i).cnd eram mic m? jucam cu trenule? electric(de pe la 4ani-am experien??) JonascouConcept

  21. avatar
    Heike Aghte

    To make it very clear: This discussion is NOT about EU law makers who want to control everything. Instead it is about EUROPEAN CITIZENS asking for a European law as they worry about road security, health, well-being of their children and a sound environment. It is citizens who have announced an initiative to the European Union because and they refer to the EU treaty clearly saying that ensuring safety, health and a sound environment for their citizens are among the most important responsibilies the European Union has.
    A lower speed limits contributes to all of these responsibilities. Compared to 50 km/h, a 30 km/h speed limit can half the number of deaths and severely injured in connection with road accidents, half the traffic noise, reduce air pollution and oil dependancy and help tackle climate change. have a look at the EU treaty and you will find any of these aims written in there.

    There is another reason why a EU-wide speed limit makes sense. We are living in a fully unified continent with hundreds of thousands of people travelling abroad per day. They need to clearly know the main security rules wherever they arrive. Security rules are not for local insiders but for visitors as well.

    Furthermore, the ECI “30 km/h – making streets liveable” aims at strengthening the decision making rights of the local communities. Right now, national laws often set too strict criteria for local communities if they wish to decide about other speed limits on their local road network. Local communities must keep certain roads to higher speed limits just because they are built as major roads – but they can be densely inhabited, have lots of schools, be frequented by children, elderly people, be crowded by pedestrians. No chance: they must stick to 50 km/h. This is not fair to the people living along those roads. What is more important: how the roads are built? Or wether the roads are frequented by many people who are in need of safety? I think it must be possible to have 30 km/h where people live and it must be possible for local authorities to have this as normal situation and decide about exceptions if they wish. The ECI is demanding exactly this. Check out http://www.30kmh.eu

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