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80mph limit may be “revisited”

Tuesday 1st October 2013

Comments made by the transport minister at the Conservative Party conference suggest that the Government has not ruled out the possibility of an 80mph speed limit, and hint at differences of opinion within the DfT.

Stephen Hammond’s comments came at a fringe meeting at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, where he said 80mph limit should be "revisited", according to an article in Auto Express.

The idea of an 80mph limit was originally raised in 2011 by Philip Hammond (then transport secretary), before the current secretary Patrick McLoughlin ruled out the prospect earlier this year.

Speaking at the fringe meeting, Stephen Hammond said: “Mr (Philip) Hammond is a great supporter of 80 miles per hour. He thinks it's the right thing to do.

"That's not a universal view among my colleagues and at the moment, because there are a huge number of other things on, we have not stopped work on it, but it's not a priority.

“Given that a lot of people travel at 80mph and we could enforce 80mph, at some stage we will want to come back and look at it."

The Telegraph says the Government had abandoned the idea in June 2013 amid fears the change would alienate women voters.

The Telegraph points out that Britain’s speed limits are lower than many other countries in Europe; France and Italy both impose a maximum of 81mph, while Germany has no restriction at all. It also says that “half of all motorway drivers currently break the 70mph limit, according to recent studies”.

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It is disappointing that the Telegraph and the Ministers seem to have little idea what they are talking about.

"While Germany has no restriction at all"...come on! Only a small proportion of German roads have no restriction and what of their fatality rate? It is significantly worse than that in the UK.

So why place the UK public at greater risk of fatality on the road network? The Conservatives may refer to work that has been done on the 80mph limit but none has been evidenced. When pressed for that evidence none is forthcoming. There is a claim that the economy will benefit from shorter journeys but even if you travel from Carlisle to the M25 you only save 20 minutes or so and that is if you maintain the speed limit for the whole journey. Make shorter journeys and you save only seconds or a minute or 2. Even the most basic sums on journey time savings have not been done. Mr Hammond proposed something that was a popularist outburst and it still is. Unfortunately, when the figures are calculated the benefits are insignificant with the risk of fatalty and serious injury very significant - perhaps that is why those propoing such a rise in the maximum speed on the motorway are not presenting the evidence. Either that or there is simply no evidence to present.
Billy Lewins Sunderland

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