80mph limit still on Government agenda

12.00 | 13 June 2013 | | 7 comments

Raising the motorway limit to 80mph is still on the Government’s agenda, Stephen Hammond, transport minister, has confirmed in an exclusive interview with Auto Express.

Mr Hammond said there would be a major announcement later this year on the prospect of an increase.

The move was strongly backed by Philip Hammond, former transport secretary, but appeared to have fallen down the DfT’s list of priorities under Patrick McLoughlin, current transport secretary.

But Stephen Hammond told Auto Express: “It is not dead. We are thinking about it; we are thinking about how we could trial it rather than go to a consultation.

“I think it would be important to have a good evidence-based trial. We are still working on that and I suspect that we are going to be able to say something on that in the autumn.”

Mr Hammond said this could mean trials taking place during 2014.

He continued: “If we are realistic, you probably will not see it happen before the summer of next year. It might need a whole year to put the whole regulatory format in place.

“What we want to do is choose the two or three areas where we trial it fairly carefully. My message, though, is that it [80mph] has not been lost.

“Our philosophy is that we should have the right speed on the right road.”


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    One factor that I never see considered is the amount of time spent on a journey in relation to the chance of involvement in some form of accident.

    If you travel on a relatively uncongested motorway at approximately 80mph you will cover 160 miles in around 2 hours. At 60mph it will not only take you 40 minutes longer but will also be a more “labour intensive” drive. I am certain that many will choose to disagree with my assessment of the relative difficulty of the two driving speeds but driving at a slower speed involves far more conflict with vehicles travelling at similar but not identical slower speeds. When I was running my airfreight business and driving from Heathrow to Wales every day I tried both methods. Driving at a speed just above lorry speeds was tried as a fuel conservation method. It was far more difficult than driving at 80+ and, on another point raised here, the faster method was, against most folks expectation, an economic plus as I was able to do more work in Wales. The extra work more than compensated for the 10% increase in fuel usage.

    Nick Elmslie, New Milton
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    The news item omitted to state why it is proposed to raise the limit in the first place, but from past articles I gather it is in the belief that the ’economy will benefit’. However, as it has been stressed that the proposal is to be subject to ‘evidence–based trials’, then, strictly speaking, this would have to calculate how much (if at all) the economy ‘benefited’, and have evidence that it was as a result of the increased limit on certain motorways – which would be impossible.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    I think the proposed 80mph MSL should be implemented.

    However, I also think that driver education is the key. I think there should be adverts educating drivers about the following:-

    • lane discipline
    • observing road markings
    • hard shoulder use
    • entering and exiting motorways/dual carriageways
    • watching the road ahead
    • keeping their distance from other traffic

    Phil, Kent
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Whilst motorway speed limits are not my area of specialisation, I did find the report from ETSC on the subject “German Autobahn: The Speed Limit Debate” informative.

    The report is at http://www.etsc.eu/documents/copy_of_Speed%20Fact%20Sheet%201.pdfhttp://www.etsc.eu/documents/copy_of_Speed%20Fact%20Sheet%201.pdf

    Rod King, Cheshire 20’s Plenty for Us
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    We all know, and Idris better than most, that the greatest influence on the results of any trial, is the selection bias of those running the trial. If motorways with high collision rates are selected, collision rates would be expected to reduce with or without 80MSL and I’m sure most RSPs would be horrified if success were claimed on the basis of such regression to the mean.

    I admit I’m not sure if there are sufficient numbers and mileages of motorways to run Randomized Controlled Trials but we must ensure that selection bias effects are not mistaken for 80MSL effects.

    The question is, how can the trial be designed so that it finds the effects of 80MSL, rather than the answer a politician or official wanted? (genuine question – answers please!)

    Dave Finney, Slough
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Sorry to disagree, for once, with Dave, but there is absolutely no need for any trials, nor would the data from a trial of 1 year on a few motorways prove anything one way or another. All the necessary data is already available internationally, and what it shows very clearly indeed, is that what motorway speed limits are make no identifiable difference whatever to accident rates or relative severities.

    Obvious examples – many German autobahns have no limits, rates no different than others that do, in Germany or elsewhere.

    There is therefore a net benefit through time saved.

    Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    There are good reasons to believe 80MSL will increase deaths and good reasons that 80MSL will reduce deaths so the experiment is important. I therefore absolutely agree with Stephen Hammond that we need “good evidence-based trials”. We must not allow the results to be influenced by Regression to the mean, nor by co-intervention effects when introducing other interventions at the same time.

    This means that 80MSL must only be implemented in scientific trials known as “Randomized Controlled Trials”.

    I’m sure none of us want 80MSL to be rolled out nationally unless we can be as certain as possible of the effects this would produce.

    Dave Finney, Slough
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

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