The Government has confirmed it has abandoned plans to introduce a new 80mph speed limit on Britain’s motorways (Telegraph).
Patrick McLoughlin, transport secretary, voiced reservations about implementing the 80mph proposal he inherited when he took over the role last year. He has now indicated that the plans have effectively been dropped, saying that a change to the speed limit is "not a priority".
The Telegraph reports that one of the reasons for the Government’s decision is that it feared a backlash from female voters. A survey of 13,000 drivers for the AA found that 73% of men favour the change; while 53% of women are in favour, a sizeable minority (41%) think the limit should remain at 70mph.
Philip Hammond, the former transport secretary who advocated the move to a higher speed limit, said it would benefit the economy by hundreds of million pounds due to faster journey times.
And as part of the Government’s commitment to "end the war on motorists", Mike Penning, the former road safety minister, announced last May that he would set up trials of the 80mph limit on parts of the motorway network.
His successor, Stephen Hammond, told a motoring forum only last week that the 80mph limit was still under consideration.
However, talking to The Times, Patrick McLoughlin made it clear that the plans had been dropped, saying: "That’s not a priority, to be absolutely honest. You would have to do trials in certain areas so it’s not something that’s a high priority."
The Telegraph reports that a source close to the transport secretary said: "This is not going to happen with Patrick McLoughlin as transport secretary. Safety is paramount to him and his view of how to run the roads and he would not be confident about how you would do it."
Fay Goodman, DriveSafe founder, said: “Women drivers are quite right to voice their concerns over increased speed limits as all the evidence shows that this leads to a rise in deaths and serious accidents.
“We are delighted that the Government has dropped their plans at a time when local authorities are pressing ahead with much-needed 20mph zones.”
Click here to read the full Telegraph report.