The Alliance of British Drivers (ABD) is calling for the revival of a proposal to increase the motorway speed limit to 80mph to replace the current “outdated” limit.
The plea comes as the 50th anniversary of the introduction of 70mph limits on 22 December draws close.
The ABD says that “substantial improvements” have been made in vehicle and highway engineering in the last half-century, adding that drivers are now much more accustomed to motorway driving.
It argues that today’s widespread lack of compliance with the 70mph speed limit is an indication of its “irrelevance to modern conditions” and is detrimental to respect for speed limits in general. The ABD goes on to suggest that tailgating, poor lane discipline, ‘undertaking’ and lack of driver concentration are other adverse effects of the 70mph limit, and says fears that the number of collisions may increase are “unfounded”.
It points to the increase in speed limits in the US since 1995, suggesting that analysis of accident trends shows no increase in collisions, while also highlighting research which shows that that speed variance has a much greater bearing on accident rates than average speed.
It also highlights that most other EU countries have motorway speed limits higher than 70mph, with 130km/h (81mph) being the most common, and says that it’s time for the UK to be “brought up to date” to bring economic benefits, improve traffic flow, and end the “needless prosecution of safe drivers”.
The idea of an 80mph limit was originally raised in 2011 by then transport secretary Philip Hammond and in 2012, the Government announced plans to trial the new limit.
However, current transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin cut short the plans in 2013, saying that they were "not a priority".
Ian Taylor, ABD director, said: “50 years after it was introduced, the 70mph speed limit has long lost the respect of the majority of drivers. The Government should increase the limit to 80mph without further delay, to bring it into line with modern safety standards and most other EU countries.
“This should be followed with a thorough review of speed limit policy, reinstating the 85th percentile as the basis of setting local speed limits, to encourage the greatest compliance, lowest spread of speeds and minimum accident risk.”