The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has produced a document suggesting that variable speed limits could help to reduce levels of air pollution around motorways. Professor Mark Baker, the director of the centre for guidelines at the NICE, said: 'If the traffic is such that you are stopping and starting, decelerating and accelerating, then that increases emissions, pollution and fuel consumption. "In those circumstances, slowing everything down to 60mph or 50mph is the best approach _ but not all the time. That's why variable speed limits are far more sensible than blanket 50mph or 60mph (limits). "Variable speed limits are useful where at times the volume of traffic results in unhealthy driving conditions _ which is stopping and starting. So M25 most of the time, M4 on a Sunday, M1 on a Friday evening. "Variable speed limits are justified on roads which are busy enough for traffic to have to break for no other reason than that (the road is) blocked.î Mr Baker also noted that the battle against air pollution was one that everyone should be 'fully committed toî and that the draft guidance sought to 'redesignî how people live and work in modern cities. Professor Paul Lincoln, the chief executive of the UK health forum and chair for the NICE guideline committee, also commented on the new document. 'Traffic-related air pollution is a major risk to the publics' health and contributes to health inequalities. 'The NICE guidance sets out a strategic range of evidence based practical measures to encourage low or zero emissions transport. This is very timely given the imperative to meet EU and national air quality standards.î The body has called for both businesses and transport services to try and educate their transport staff in the skills of 'smooth' driving, such as turning the engine off at a standstill and avoiding both hard accelerations and decelerations. A number of recommendations were included in the guidance, including that future city and town plans place buildings further away from roads and that cyclists be screened from motorised traffic by shrubs and plants, especially in situation where they've been found to reduce overall air pollution. Dr Jill Meara, current acting director for the PHE centre of radiation, chemical and environmental hazards, said: 'As well as reducing the adverse impact of air pollution on health, the advice will help to improve people's wellbeing by encouraging exercise, and mitigating against climate change by reducing carbon emissions.î