The Northern Belgian region of Flanders has reduced the default speed limit on roads outside built-up areas to 70km/h from 90km/h previously.
The new limit, which doesn’t apply to motorways or separated highways, is designed to improve road safety but also to standardise the proliferation of lower limits already in place on many inter urban roads across the region. Instead of 70km/h being a signposted exception, it now becomes the default – with 90km/h only permitted under specific conditions such as separated bicycle paths being in place. One consequence will be the removal of thousands of 70km/h signs, with associated long term cost savings.
The measure only applies to the Flanders region and not to Belgium’s other two provinces, Wallonia and Brussels, where 90km/h will remain the standard.
According to a recent opinion poll, a majority of drivers support the move.
Meanwhile Wallonia is set to increase the numbers of intelligent 30 km/h speed signs near schools that reduce the speed limit during the daytime but switch off at night.
The Belgian Road Safety Institute (BRSI) has warned that Belgians still perceive speeding as ‘cool’, making breaking the speed limit more socially acceptable than drink driving. “We really need a change of mentality,” said Stef Williams, a BRSI spokesman.