60mph motorway speed limit rejected

Speed limit
8 Jul, 2014 3:20pm Joe Finnerty

There'll be no motorway speed limit cut to 60mph, says Transport Secretary

Plans to enforce 60mph speed limits on several stretches of new smart motorways to help reduce pollution have been rejected by the Government.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has told the Highways Agency to find fresh ways to improve air quality in the three zones rather than lowering the speed limit. 

The Highways Agency now has 18 months to come up with an alternative to its planned 7am to 7pm, seven day a week "go slow" on the new smart motorways being developed on the M1 in South Yorkshire and Derbyshire and the M3 in Surrey.

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If the new proposals still include a temporary speed reduction, it'll have to be "absolutely necessary" to be given the green light by the Department for Transport (DfT). The Highways Agency has been told 70mph must be used when traffic is lighter such as at weekends or outside of commuting hours, too.

Mr McLoughlin said: "Let me be absolutely clear, I want all motorways to run at 70mph. While it sometimes makes sense to use variable limits to keep people moving, blanket reductions are not acceptable.

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"Smart motorways are an effective and cost efficient way of increasing space on our roads, cutting jams and speeding up journey times and I am pleased to announce the start of work on these schemes."

Three new 'smart' motorways are planned

The three new smart motorways - which will feature variable speed limits and the ability to convert the hard shoulder to a running lane at peak hours - are part of a £24 billion of investment in the road network by 2021.

These schemes will boost capacity by a third and improve journey times up to 10 per cent through the M1 schemes and 15 per cent on the M3, where average speeds are currently 45mph during rush-hour.

The M1 schemes (Junctions 28 to 31 in Derbyshire and Junctions 32 to 35a in South Yorkshire) commence operation from autumn 2015, and the M3 scheme (Junction 2 to 4a) opens to traffic in 2016.

There's been a lot of debate about UK speed limits recently. What do you think is the best speed limit for our roads? Tell us by leaving a comment below...

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Nice to see some common sense has prevailed!

Only a complete buffoon would buy a property next to a motorway and then complain about the road noise.

Oh Wait! They have it's the buffoons of Camberley, Frimley & Farnborough.

Just remember folks, that the residents of most of Surrey are like a west country cream tea. Rich, Thick & fully clotted.

Looks like the 'Remember the election is only 11 months away' memo has landed on McLoughlin's desk.

So shameful that instead of raising the limit to 80mph or introducing de-restricted stretches of the motorway on the pattern of Germany, our out-of-touch technocrats and politicians are considering lowering the speed limit.

what idiot thought 60 mph was a good idea? Our modern cars can stop faster now and are capable of higher and safer speeds than when speed limits were introduced in the 70's- Our cars are much cleaner than in the dark ages of motoring.What you need to get rid of is the idiots driving at 50-60 in the middle/overtaking lane. Since the beginning of the year its been illegal to drive constantly in the middle lane. How many drivers have been fined? Also impose a law that forces people to have motorway training as there are far too many drivers without a clue- you do NOT stop when joining a motorway from a slip road and you must accelerate to join the motorway and match the speed. Constant speed is more environmental than stop and go. Where its possible delimit speed restrictions full stop.
And no to the ecomentalists and BRAKE. Speed does not kill- untrained drivers do. and no I am not a speed freak. With over 25 years of driving experience I have no points and no accidents except from one from being a new driver over 20 years ago as a car and HGV driver.

British drivers totally lack the skills or attitude for 80mph motorways let alone derestricted ones! Just look at the way everyone drives, how close they are, the speeds they do in fog and rain, the undertaking, the lack of indicator use..

Could go on but fact is the UK standard of driving is pretty poor I think.

Whilst I totally agree speed limits should be increased on motorways, the drivers intelligence or skills won't.

Don't ever assume the Germans are any better at driving, having spent a lot of time on Autobahns recently, the idea that Germans drive like angels and that is why they are allowed to go fast, is just garbage. Tail gating and everything still occurs and people still hammer it round curves in the road where they have no visibility. It is a myth.

The "managed motorways" around Birmingham are a complete mess. Monday I drove up the motorway through there, and you start off going 70, then there is one overhead sign that tells you to do 50, then the next one says 60, then the next one is 50, 60, 60, 50, etc... To force drivers to change their speed like this is outright dangerous. They are forced to spend more time looking at the speedometer than actually looking at what is going on around them. And you never know when there is going to be a speed camera above you... It's an absolute mess. Just keep all the motorways at 60 or 70 around busy areas, and raise the speed to 80 or even 90 (say in the fast lane) everywhere else... Seeing as over half the people on the motorways are doing 80 mph anyway. Sort it out.

The M1 northbound Near Luton is nearly always reduced to 60 , 9 times out of 10 the motorway itself is clear !! I travel up to junction 14 everyday and everyday around Luton its reduced to 60 for no apparent reason other than to fine motorists, Shame they don't actually go after everyone playing with their mobiles while driving .

The motorway speed limit will not be increased. It's all down to emissions. The UK has targets and allowing cars to travel faster would increase emissions which the government can't allow. And while cars are much safer now, there are more of them on the road and human reaction times haven't changed. Given many people cruise at 80mph anyway and don't seem to get done for speeding, is there really any need for an increase? More intelligent variable limits would be my preference, and no that doesn't include an 80mph limit at night. There are enough hazards at night as it is, even if you're alert, there is no telling how tired the driver in front is.