Image: Highways England
Highways England is to increase the speed limit deployed at motorway road works, according to various media reports over the weekend.
The move follows trials at two motorway locations which showed that drivers’ heart rates were lower when the road works speed limit was 55mph or 60mph, rather than the 50mph which is currently used at these sites.
Although there is no official announcement on the Highways England website, Jim O’Sullivan, chief executive of Highways England, told The Times that the 60mph limit was "something that we want to introduce to (at) as many road works as possible".
While the move has been broadly welcomed in some quarters, the trade union which represents road workers has expressed safety concerns. A spokesperson for Unite told BBC News the move will “make potentially lethal accidents even more common”.
The RAC described the move as “good news for motorists”.
Simon Williams, RAC spokesman, said: “Where safe to do so, increasing the limit through road works will provide better, more reliable journeys for drivers – many of whom become frustrated with a 50mph limit when there is no work going on.
“Highways England has listened to motorists and found through these trials that safety will not be compromised.”
Under the headline ‘motorway gladness’, The Sun says Highways England is introducing the move with the country at ‘tipping point’ with regard to the number of road works on the country’s motorway network.
The move appears to be part of a drive by Highways England to reduce the inconvenience caused by road works.
On 19 October, the agency amended its £15bn road improvement programme to ‘reduce the impact of road works on motorists and minimise congestion while improvements take place’.
In an unrelated move that also affects motorway drivers, it was announced last week that motorists who ignore red ‘X’ signs on smart motorways are to be given £100 fixed penalty notices from early next year.