Higher Sunday roadworks speeds to be tested

10.02 | 16 July 2018 | | 4 comments

Image: Highways England

Highways England is considering allowing drivers to travel at higher speeds through motorway roadworks during quieter periods, including Sundays.

Reported by BBC News, the move could see speed limits increased from 50mph to 60mph where there is less activity by road workers.

As part of the initiative, which is aimed at reducing drivers’ frustration at roadworks, varying speed limits could also be used within one set of roadworks.

The initiative will now be tested by Highways England and, if successful, the higher speed limits would come into effect in late 2018 or early 2019.

Figures show there are, on average, nearly 300 incidents each week of drivers entering coned-off areas or subjecting road workers to physical or verbal abuse on motorways or major A roads.

A study by Highways England, released in October 2017, found that 60% of drivers who drove at 60mph (rather than 50mph) through a roadworks zone experienced a decreased heart rate, indicating a reduction in frustration.

Jim O’Sullivan, Highways England chief executive, told BBC News: “People understand roadworks are necessary but are also frustrated by them.

“At the same time we have to ensure as they drive through them that they, and our road workers, are safe.

“So we are always thinking of new ways to improve journeys at the same time as keeping everyone as safe as we can.

“That is why over the next 12 months we will test changes to the design and operation of roadworks.”

The RAC welcomed a trial but said continued use of average speed cameras was also ‘essential’.

Simon Williams, RAC spokesman, told BBC News: “The safety of road workers is paramount but the use of average speed cameras have been very successful in controlling speed.

“Increasing the limit will do away with some of the frustration for drivers.”



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    It’s no wonder that drivers become concerned when the average following on or safe stopping distances reduces even more when the road speed reduces to 50 mph. It’s bad enough having a HGV just 20ft behind one at 56 mph but when the speeds come down and the carriageways become narrower so the safe distance between vehicles reduces even more. They just drive right up to one’s rear bumper as if you are towing them and that is not only an offence but extremely dangerous, aggressive and intimidating. That’s what gets the blood pressure and heart rate up….Tailgating.

    Perhaps the Highway Authority can educate drivers when and where necessary by placing pre signage and distance markers at 175ft approx. intervals to advise drivers that that is the minimum safe driving distance at 50 mph and that if found to be any closer then action could possibly be taken by the police from camera observations.

    Hopefully that will not only slow traffic down but with drivers or some drivers giving the increased distance the road will be safer for all users.

    Agree (2) | Disagree (1)

    Never mind the heart rates of the ‘inconvenienced’ drivers – what about the heart rates of the workers so close to vehicles at 50mph?(never mind 60 mph)

    A reminder to motorists and in particular, regular M-way users where there are road works .. there is no requirement to drive AT the indicated speed limits!

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (2) | Disagree (5)

    Why not test these speed limit increases within RCT scientific trials? Then, instead of guessing what effect might have occurred, we would know.

    dave finney, Slough
    Agree (5) | Disagree (2)

    I wonder if this is a general improvement and for everyone to benefit from such a move or has it been instigated and brought about somehow by the haulage industry in an effort facilitating more higher speeds for their vehicles (56 and not 50 mph) and thus improve their profitability. With all the benefits that they have amassed over the last few years I can see this as being another one.

    Agree (5) | Disagree (1)

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