Road Safety News

80mph limit plans to be scrapped: Telegraph

Monday 18th February 2013

The Government appears poised to abandon plans to introduce a new 80mph speed limit on Britain’s motorways, amid fears the move could lead to more collisions, according to the Telegraph.

The Telegraph says that Patrick McLoughlin, transport secretary, is determined to make road safety a greater priority and does not want to implement the 80mph proposal he inherited when he took over the job last September.

Increasing the motorway speed limit from its current level of 70mph was first suggested under Labour and was pursued by Philip Hammond, who, as transport secretary, officially mooted the idea in 2011.

Mr Hammond claimed the move would reduce congestion and boost the economy by “hundreds of millions of pounds”. However, road safety campaigners and environmental groups have expressed concerns about the proposal.

David Cameron and George Osborne are both understood to be “agnostic” about raising the speed limit and there appears to be no significant support within the cabinet, says the Telegraph.

A coalition source said: “There is no imminent announcement of a U-turn, but rest assured, there is no way Patrick [McLoughlin] is going to preside over a raising of the limit on motorways. You are likely to hear official confirmation later in the year."

Click here to read the full Telegraph report.


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I'm surprised this has invited so much debate, it isn't broke, so why fix it? Why is travelling at 65mph on the motorway dangerous? No one person has more right than another, if they choose to travel at 70mph, or exceed the limit then they have no choice but to wait until that opportunity is available to them. It isn't a right, it's a limit. Tailgating, bad manners and excessive speed is the danger on the motorway. I deliver refresher training to company car drivers, having someone oversee your driving is invaulable, it deals with complacency, highlights risk and reinforces responisibility.
Mrs Green Northants

Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

Other than very old trucks, and some used for training, all heavy trucks are legally restricted to 56mph. Some even slower. Buses and coaches are restricted to 62 mph.
David Clark, North Yorkshire

Agree (1) | Disagree (0)

I am very pleased to see someone else calling for “scientific proof” because I can't find any for any road safety intervention in Britain. There is very good evidence that seat belts save lives and that driving well above the current alcohol limit is dangerous, but scientific trials have never been used for any intervention.

That's why it's probably good that 80mph has been dropped. Not only were scientific trials rejected, but 80mph was also to be implemented with more speed cameras. If deaths had gone up, would that be because of the 80mph or because of the speed cameras? If deaths had gone down, would that be due to the 80mph or the speed cameras? We could not have known.

To conduct an experiment with lives at stake without being able to ascertain what intervention caused what effect is dangerous (and probably illegal).
Dave, Slough

Agree (4) | Disagree (3)

I have no scientific proof that crossing the road while reading a newspaper or juggling carving knives is "dangerous", although I'm sure there is some academic out there now writing his request for funding to conduct such a useful study into the blindingly obvious.

Actually, I never said that that it was "dangerous". My experience was that, based on my own senses, it was HIGHER RISK than travelling at similar speeds to the rest of the traffic. Higher risk will usually translate into more collisions/casualties.
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans

Agree (4) | Disagree (13)

Eric and/or Idris.

Do you have scientific proof that driving between a speed of 55-65mph in the nearside lane of a motorway is dangerous? If so, could you pls forward details of the study(ies) which prove this.
Nick Rawlings, editor, Road Safety GB newsfeed

Agree (11) | Disagree (0)

I can only assume that those who disagree with Idris's assessment have never had to drive on a motorway or dual-carriageway at 55mph because of a spacesaver tyre. I have and it was an experience that I am not keen to repeat. Once again, going slower is not automatically safer.
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans

Agree (4) | Disagree (6)

In reply to the post Idris Francis makes about travelling at 60/65, surely that is why a motorway normally has 2 overtaking lanes.
Allan Leicester

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Leaving aside the merits or otherwise of 80mph, I am astonished that anyone who values human life should choose to drive at 60-65mph on a motorway, without soon realising that he is a danger to himself and to others. By doing so he becomes a moving chicane around which, at peak times, some 300 vehicles an hour will need to divert. That's one additional risk of error, one additional lane change every 12 seconds or so.
Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield

Agree (4) | Disagree (17)

Sorry Nick, must just say that I am not against the introduction of 20 mph in residential areas around town. I don't know what gave you that idea. As a motorcyclist I believe that a reduced speed limit is a good thing in general for motorcycle and scooter and cycle safety.

As regards the question of increasing the speed limit on motorways, we already have a situation where the outside lane is slow if it's doing that speed anyway. 85 and 90 are very general. Due in some way to the new tolerances for speeders that was mooted some time ago and reported on this website.
bob craven Lancs.

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One of the problems I would forsee with a default 80 mph comes from the fact that large sections of our motorway network are built to minimum standards or even less than minimum standards. Whilst there are some 50 mph limits there are also numerous advisory signs. If 80 mph became the default then there would probably be numerous calls to have mandatory lower limits, probably to excess and detriment compared to the current situation.
Mark Caerphilly

Agree (5) | Disagree (3)

Although only 4% of injury collisions take place on motorways and 7% of fatalities take place on motorways, the need for training on the safe use of motorway systems is vital if there is even the faintest notion of raising the limit in the future. The quality of lane discipline and general behavior is appalling and until that is changed there is no case for changing the limit from one which the vast majority of road users cannot cope with already.
Nickolas DSA ADI (Cars) Sawbridgeworth

Agree (15) | Disagree (4)

I think the motorway speed limit should have been raised some time ago. If other road users watch the road around them, then there will be far fewer accidents. Anyway, as I've written in other articles, the most important thing to remember is "Watch The Road".
Phil, Kent

Agree (11) | Disagree (31)

Have allowed Bob & Rod's comments on 20mph limits (one from each side!), but this story is about 80mph limits - don't want this to develop into a full scale debate about the rights and wrongs of 20mph. Thanks for your co-operation.
Nick Rawlings, editor, Road Safety GB newsfeed

Agree (29) | Disagree (0)


Successive British Social Attitudes Surveys have come out with 75%+ of those surveyed saying that 20mph was the right speed limit for residential streets, including 70% of those who were drivers. Hence I would not consider a policy with that level of support "unpopular".

I suspect that it was the popularity of 20mph limits that led to some calling for an 80mph limit as a "quid pro quo".
Rod King, Cheshire, 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (4) | Disagree (20)

Never thought that this was a real consideration. It became mooted in some quarters at a time when the government was being possibly very unpopular by reducing minor roads to 20 mph. In some way it was a red herring designed to mitigate any ill feeling.
bob Craven Lancs

Agree (15) | Disagree (5)

The proposal was at odds with promoting fuel economy and reducing noise and pollution. The small amount of time saved (the proposal was supposedly legalising the status quo on speed) was unlikely to translate into economic prosperity. (Mr) Hammond seemed to think a rise in KSI was a fair price to pay for a few minutes saved. Thankfully his successor is made of sterner stuff.

Agree (29) | Disagree (7)

Great news. Lives are priceless. All you will be doing is giving the Government and oil companies more money. On a 100 mile trip I save about £5 per journey by travelling at 60-65mph on the motorway as I am getting about 10-15mpg more than travelling at 70mph. Give more time and plan your journey to save money. Think about it - we are always in a hurry!
Philip R

Agree (36) | Disagree (10)