Government considers raising motorway speed limit

14.40 | 28 February 2011 | | 4 comments

Motorway speed limits could be raised to 80mph and limits on city and town roads may be reduced, reports The Independent.

According to the report in The Independent, the decision on restrictions would be made as much on cost as on safety. Philip Hammond, the transport secretary, said that decisive factors could include the economic benefits of faster travel as well as environmental concerns.

Mr Hammond said: "We need to do this on a pretty rigorous cost-benefit analysis basis. At the moment there are a clear set of criteria for making these decisions. Perhaps we ought to ask if we are using the right set of criteria."

Mr Hammond went on to suggest that in some towns speed limits could be reduced from 30mph to 20mph, on both environmental and safety grounds.

Britain’s 70mph motorway speed limit has been in force since 1965. In France and Italy the maximum speed is 81mph while in Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Belgium it is 75mph.

The news comes after it was revealed last week that drivers intend to reduce their speeds to cut fuel consumption. According to an AA/Populous survey 49% of AA members intend to drive more economically as a direct cause of rising fuel prices.

In a DfT poll, however, respondents were even more likely to change their behavior – 59% said they intend to reduce their speed on motorways, in order to cut fuel consumption. The figure rises to 65% among female drivers.

Click here to read the full The Independent report.

Click here to read the full AA report.


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    Further to my last comments I have to report the following. On the block of 16 streets being traffic calmed. One has a junior school on it and another a park area with grass for the playing of ball games – which is not fenced ie open on all sides. I have just seen that neither of these streets are being reduced to 20 mph. Now due to the possible dangers of children being run over would you not have thought that these two streets would have been a priority for speed reduction!

    Anywhere else maybe but not in Blackpool.

    Bob Craven, Lancs
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    I can only agree with Mr Buchanan and with the raising of the motorway speed limit. I am concerned, however, with the lowering of a town limit unless it is a blanket lowering. The last thing that motorists want now is a 20, now 30 mph, limit in adjacent streets. Blackpool is about to do this as part of what they claim is traffic calming and I believe the reverse will apply particularly as they intend to put silent policemen or half humps on something like 16 roads streets and avenues. That’s not only going to hurt suspensions its going to have a greater adverse effect on two wheeled vehicles and make these streets more dangerous, cause some increased frustration to other delivery and service drivers, not to mention the emergency services. And all for what I ask myself? There is no evidence of serious accidents in that area but according to the road safety officers it needs a 20 limit and traffic calming with humps. Absolutely ridiculous, and a waste of taxpayers money at a time when that monies could be spent on something more worthwhile. In my opinion it should be stopped.
    What a crazy world we live in. Again it appears to me that either they have too much money and need to spend it otherwise they wont get it next fiscal year or someone had a brilliant idea in order to make themselves noticed or indispensible.

    Bob Craven, Lancs
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    Speed obsessions. Raise them by all means, only those whose company pays or can afford the extra costs will benefit. There may also come greater safety, as vehicles can pass slower vehicles quicker. The most economical roads to use are motorways and trunk roads. We drove a small fourteen year old Fiesta with three people plus luggage across northern France to the Loire Valley and back, averaging 55mpg. The fastest we went was 65mph. Locally in home to work and shopping it seldom betters 40mpg. It’s hard to make it more economical, as we drive gently and smoothly. Rising fuel costs will put people off the roads, more vehicles will stay parked and SORN’d because of it. Expect congestion and accident rates to reflect this. I also concur with Roy Buchanan on speed humps and the money factor.

    Derek Reynolds, St Albans
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    I have motorcycled extensively in Europe for over 40 years and not found the higher motorway speed limit a problem. In contrast, I am not persuaded that reducing the 30mph limit to 20mph “in some towns” will pay the expected dividends. Regarding the environment, traffic calming contributes to pollution, a point often ignored by campaigners. Also, motorists are reducing speed in response to the appalling price of petrol not from concern for environmental issues nor indeed road safety. The distastful element in this report is that the deciding factor is money not safety.

    Roy Buchanan, Sutton
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