Poll reveals motorists would welcome 80mph motorway limit

11.02 | 20 May 2011 | | 2 comments

More than 70% of drivers and riders think that the UK’s motorway speed limit should be increased by at least 10 mph, according to an IAM poll.

The poll of over 2,000 motorists also found that almost 60% say they would be more likely to stick to an 80 mph limit than they are to the current limit of 70 mph.

Of those questioned nearly 60% also admitted to travelling above 70 mph when traffic is free-flowing and uncongested, with 20% of those travelling at 80 mph or faster. The survey concurs with DfT research, which found that 52% of cars exceeded the 70 mph speed limit, and 16% travel at 80 mph or faster.

Neil Greig, IAM director of policy and research, said: “Even though motorways are the safest roads, increasing the motorway speed limit is a controversial subject. This is why we want to see a trial to test its impact on road safety, fuel consumption and driver behaviour.

“A new 80 mph limit would need to be properly enforced to make sure that it does not become an excuse to drive at 90.”

“Shortening journey times for people travelling at quieter times, as Phillip Hammond, transport secretary, suggests, is a good idea, providing it doesn’t have a negative effect on safety.”

For more information contact the IAM press office on 020 8996 9777.


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    This whole issue was studied by TRL in 2006 for the Highways Agency. The report concluded that there would be some journey time savings, some casualty increases, more carbon produced and worsening of air quality. It also pointed out that things like safety barriers are procured to standards that are tested at 70mph and therefore there is something of a legal liability in promoting the system to operate outwith its design criteria. I can also see a vast exercise to assess each route, with some falling short and needing to be signed at 70mph (at great expense). Additionally we would surely needs Wales and Scotland to be consitent with England which to me makes this all a long grass idea.

    The only mileage in this from a road safety point of view would be to broker some deal to actually enforce all motorways at 80mph using ANPR. This could well produce casualty savings.

    Peter Whitfield, Manchester
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    That’s about as surprising as a survey showing that ‘more than 70%’ of turkeys are in favour of abolishing Christmas. If we take the old ACPO guideline of 10% +2 that would be…90MPH! Looks like the maths may disappoint Neil Greig.

    Mike Mounfield, Birmingham
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