The Government has not ruled out increasing the motorway speed limit from 70 to 80mph, though the new transport secretary appears less attracted to the idea than his predecessor, according to Fleet News.
The idea was first mooted by the former transport secretary Philip Hammond, who claimed the increase would be good for business.
However his replacement, Patrick McLoughlin, appears less convinced. According to Fleet News, he said it is important that “we never lose sight about the issue of safety on our roads” and that safety was “paramount” to his thinking.
Meanwhile, a DfT spokesman said it was currently working on an impact assessment of an 80mph speed limit on sections of the motorway network with variable speed limits and considering the criteria for where and under what conditions the 80mph speed limit might be applied.
“We aim to consult on this later in the year alongside the broader work on a roads strategy,” he said.
Malcolm Heymer, traffic management adviser for the Association of British Drivers (ABD), said: “A 70mph limit was introduced in 1965, when the top speed of an average car was about 85mph and few could cruise at speeds much above 70.
“Today, an average car can cruise easily at 80mph or more. Consequently speeds have increased with about half of car drivers exceeding current limits.
“There’s decades of evidence that this is the best way to set speed limits to achieve maximum compliance, smoother traffic flow, fewer conflicts between vehicles and hence fewer accidents.
“According to DfT figures, the current 85th percentile speed on Britain’s motorways is 79mph, so an 80mph speed limit would match that.”
But Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of the road safety charity Brake, believes that an 80mph limit would cause more people to be killed and seriously injured on motorways.
She said: “We welcome Mr McLoughlin’s comments that his priority is the safety of road users and his acknowledgement that managing traffic speed is crucial in preventing needless deaths and injuries.
“We look forward to hearing more from the new transport ministers on how they will usher in a better era for safety on roads and help to counter the recent increase in casualties.”
Click here to read the full Fleet News report.