Blog : Time for our speed limits to be overhauled

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Keith Adams

UK Motorways

Back in 2011, the Conservative Government began speaking bullishly about upping the UK motorway speed limit to 80mph. We’ve been limited to (a supposedly temporary) 70mph since 1965, when the best selling cars in the UK were the BMC 1100 and Ford Cortina. I usually tend to keep politics off this website, but this is one time that I actually thought that David Cameron’s party was capable at some level of talking sense.

For me, raising the speed limit is an easy win all round – it brings us into line with the rest of Europe which, apart from a couple of exceptions, seems to have braced the 130km/h (81mph) limit – even the more pedestrian European countries, such as Switzerland and Belgium, are happy with a 120km/h limit, which equates to 75mph – technically illegal in the UK.

I’m far more likely to overlook a driver who’s a little bit over, but is driving correctly…”
– a traffic officer

Of course, in Blighty, we’ve had an unofficial speed limit that’s beyond 70mph for as long as I have been driving and, in many cases, it’s down to the discretion of whatever traffic officer, who happens to see you on the day. As one traffic officer friend of mine told me wryly, ‘I’m not looking at outright speed, but the manner in which a car is being driven – if it’s going 85mph, but is also in the wrong lane, too close or just exhibiting signs of aggressiveness, I’ll give the driver a pull – and know that I’ll have him guaranteed for speeding… at the very least.’

Interestingly, he adds, ‘but I’m far more likely to overlook a driver who’s a little bit over, but is driving correctly.’

While I completely approve of the idea of relying on the traffic officer’s judgment (and he knows far more about driving – and the consequences of what happens when things go wrong than you or me), it also leaves grounds for ambiguity. However, in this day and age, with the liability culture reigning supreme, ambiguity is not good. Plus, when did you last see a traffic officer on the motorway?

Managed Motorway

What we do have in increasing numbers are managed motorways with speed limit matrix-signs tied-in with speed cameras and the ability at peak times to use the hard shoulder as an additional lane. My experience commuting on the M1, which has been a managed motorway between Bedford and Watford for a couple of years now, is that traffic now flows for more of the time, even during the rush (five) hour(s). Queues now tend to happen if something goes wrong and are less likely simply because of sheer weight of traffic.

Yes, it’s a bit of a chore for those who like to think for themselves and drive to the prevailing conditions, but needs must – and, unfortunately, most drivers do need to be explicitly told what to do.

That said, if these managed motorways can be expanded further, why not open up the speed limit during quieter periods on these routes? Why should we not see ’80’ on those gantry signs at certain times? Modern cars brake infinitely better than their predecessors and are certainly more stable on motorways. And, yes, although we have more cars on the roads, we’re more capable of running faster and closer than ever before. With a zero-tolerance 80mph limit, which is rigorously enforced, I’m certainly convinced that by losing those grounds for ambiguity, while allowing those with the need to crack on, the motorways will be far more useful for all. Once we can sort out lane discipline, tailgating, indicating, etc., etc…

On that proviso, I’d go further by suggesting that, when the NSL sign – the circle with a diagonal stripe through it – appears on those gantry signs, it has the same meaning as in Germany. That is, derestricted. There are times and conditions when going considerably faster than 80mph is perfectly safe – and our friends across the Channel have proved that. Yes, they’re more disciplined on the motorways and the TÜV test is tougher than or MoT, but what a great benefit. I can wish…

blogsspeed_01

Of course, it isn’t just motorways where limits need review. Single-carriageway A-roads are currently being choked by HGVs that – legally – are unable to drive faster than 40mph. Why is this so? The rest of Europe has set the HGV limit on similar roads between 80-90km/h (50-56mph), so why do we have to drag along at 1940s speed levels?

The Government will tell you that the HGV limit has been set at 40mph since the 1960s, and that its continued enforcement is in the interests of safety and fuel consumption – but it’s almost universally detested. And rightly so… The Freight Industry is behind a DfT review of this antediluvian speed limit (which was widely ignored until the mid-2000s, when tight enforcement was introduced) for England and Wales, and certainly support it being raised to a more sensible level. I know from my own experience on the roads is that, with lorries lumbering along the road at 40mph, car drivers are taking risks to get past – whereas, when lorries were driving along at 56mph, far fewer drivers would risk life and limb on the wrong side of the road.

I could go on – as I do think we have lots to learn from Europe on so many aspects of speed enforcement, but the two most pressing issues, the motorway limit and 40mph HGVs are enough to make my blood boil…

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

70 Comments

  1. Is a Transit van restricted to 50 mph on A roads or is only long wheelbase ones. I know people who have been caught out by this strange loophole. A single speed limit for all vehicles on a given type of road seems a far more sensible system. In America trucks can do the maximum speed limit on Freeways and it makes them flow much better.

  2. I would love to agree with the raising of speed limits but I have reservations:
    The standard of driving in the UK is alrady abysmal.
    I drove from Chatham Kent to home – a distance of about 150 miles on the M20, 25 and M4 on Thursday afternoon. There were three crashes – 2 on the opposite carriageway and one on mine.
    Whilst travelling at 75 in the middle lane – with a line of cars at around 2-3 seconds distant – an Audi passed me at (in my estimation) around 100 mph. Within seconds a BMW and another Audi, closely followed (and I mean by a mili-second) by a Mercedes who were all gaining on the first Audi. This was not 3 o’clock in the morning or some nicely deserted Scottish route – this was the M25 at 5 o’clock in the afternoon!
    I am a firm believer that speed does not cause accidents – it’s where, when and how close you are to another vehicle that kills people!
    Until we have the strictest controls and we stop mucking about with computer games as part of the driving test and get the standard up – I cannot support a relaxing of the limits. The minimum standard for driving a vehicle should be the RoSPA Silver with a commitment to gain the Gold within 12 months. At present we set the standard very low and fail to meet it.

  3. Before the limits are raised I’d like to see some of the dangerous junctions sorted out first.
    There are too many dual-carridgeway slip roads that are either too short, or join on the brow of a hill.
    It’s bad enough knowing a vehicle can pop over the hill at 70, but would be worse knowing it could be doing 80.

  4. I’ve said it before on here – UK drivers need to be aware of junctions and act accordingly. For me, that is to be considerate to those joining; if at speed, to either signal clearly and move swiftly into the middle lane to allow them to join, if crawling to leave sufficient gap for anyone joining.

    I wonder how many people notice that the white lines near junctions are long line, short gap, rather than dashes – indicating an increased hazard risk.

    I don’t blindly stay in the middle or inside at junctions – if I can see the slip road clearly or my speed is appropriate there’s no need to head to the middle. Yet as another queue of traffic builds up at J24 on the M1 Northbound with drivers veering from the outside lane to the exit, I can’t help but wonder if some clear signage at 2 miles and 1 mile saying “Get in inside lane if using exit” – and legislation to compel those who feel that they’re somehow gaining by whizzing past the queue, only to cause a delay later on as someone has to stop to let them traverse 3 lanes – would help the flow of traffic at peak times.

    Fundamentally it’s selfishness. I want to drive at a cruising speed on the M6, for example, and will pass many cars doing so – but when I have returned to the inside and the M69 is only a mile away, I just chill and go with the flow of traffic rather than darting around trying to maintain the earlier pace.

    FWIW, I’ve seen quite a few Police patrol cars. They’re easy to spot. The things than passed you when you were doing 80 are now all bunched up and hovering around the middle lane at 68mph refusing to pass the clearly marked car, as you calmly M-S-M and pass them at a little over 70, then return to the inside lane when appropriate.

  5. Sadly keith round our way many speed limits have been lowered in the name of safety, even dual carriage ways are down from 70 to 50. It seems very odd to me that you can bomb down a country lane that’s twisty, narrow with sharp turns and blind spots at 60 then come to a dual carriage way and be restricted to 50.
    I support the call to review the limits (some up and some down) and for all those who complain just remember it’s a LIMIT not a TARGET, if you wish to slower you can.

  6. Keith,
    Why are you in such a hurry? what is so important that in order to get to it a few minutes sooner you would drive at such a speed that if something went wrong for you or someone else then death or serious injury would result? why not leave a bit earlier or find an occupation that does not have you “needing” to rush about?

  7. Why are you in such a hurry? what is so important that in order to get to it a few minutes sooner you would drive at such a speed that if something went wrong for you or someone else then death or serious injury would result? why not leave a bit earlier or find an occupation that does not have you “needing” to rush about?

    Funniest post of the day – I salute you, Sir.

  8. I so agree that speed limits need to be reviewed – too many are simply wrong being either too high or too low. Its a shame that the LibDems (with the exception of Vince Cable and a couple of others) are broadly anti-car in the name of environmentalism.

    I am also a great supporter of variable speed limits and they do work – despite my initial doubts – and would like to see them extended to urban areas especially outside schools where they can be very low (10-15mph) at drop off and pick up times, 20 when the schools are open and then 30 at all other times. Too often speed limits are simply arbitrary.

    I would also like to see more focus on those who drive dangerously slowly or simply drive too slowly. For example I regularly drive on the A59 from Knaresborough to York which is mostly 60mph limit but for one section which is 40mph (should be 30 in my view due to the number of openings) and could be 70 in a number of other places but the number of times I find myself behind people doing 48mph irrespective of the speed limit – they need to be clamped down on.

    Another improvement I would like to see, not speed limits, is the building of New Zealand style passing sections on 2 lane roads so you can get past slower vehicles easily and safely.

    Finally ban anyone who has or has had an Audi – that would wipe out a lot of bad drivers instantly.

  9. AndrewP @9

    While I can see the point you make about slowing down around schools I think the more we protect children from danger the less they understand it.

    My mother worked in a hostel for maladjusted children (in the 70s) the kids were protected from hot water! by the do gooders making sure that all the hot taps only ran warm. When the kids went away for a weekend one was scalded by hot water in the bathroom because he didn’t know it could be so hot.

  10. Funny thing is, I was beginning to wonder if the NSL had been dropped to 50. The number of people who “max out” at 50 on clear, open NSL roads round here is becoming far to common. Never mi d that when the limit drops, they still continue at the same pace, irrespective of the posted limit.

  11. The standards of driving and the risible driving test in UK need to improve, just check the German driving test. It is bad to be tailgated at 60 or 70 mph, just think of the same at 80 or 100, and the number of multiple car rear end collisions I see on the M25, simply drivers not leaving adequate braking distance.

    In France the motorway speed limit changes depending on weather, rain or dry etc., how many UK drivers have the intelligence to amend speed/ braking distance in the rain? Not many!!

    Pet hate, newspaper reports of accidents staing the car went out of control, cars do NOT go out of control, drivers lose control of the car

  12. It is perfectly legal to drive at a sensible 50 in a NSL road which I assume NSL is 60 or 70 mph, at 50 mph a car returns far greater mpg, fewer emmissions and less noise pollution.

    The £6 gallon has led to a change in driving habits for a good number of motorist benefiting road safety, reducing accident rates overall, except for the lemming-like under 25 age group.

  13. I had just logged on, but ‘MM’ had just posted pretty much what I was going to post.

    The standard of driving needs to improve MASSIVELY before they even consider raising the speed limits. The fact that the UK driving test doesn’t teach ANY motorway driving is also a mistake.

    At the other end of the scale, although I don’t believe in retests for pensioners, some sort of driving assessment should take place. Yesterday I followed a Corsa down the slip road onto the M65, driven by two old people who could barely see over the dashboard doing no more than 25mph.

    In my town they’ve [stupidly] reduced speed limits. 50MPH dual carriage ways have been reduced to 30, and they put mobile speed camera vans out (usually parked in stupid places – just over the brow of a blind hill on one road!), yet they haven’t put up any signs advising the speed limits have changed, just taken down the old ones. They say that they don’t have enough funding for new signs, yet they’ve somehow found funding for hundreds of 20MPH signs, which they’ve stuck on pretty much every lampost on every side street, even back streets! But that’s another rant…

  14. The reason for HGV’s (Sorry, LGV’s) being limited to 40mph on single carriageway national speed limit roads is so that there will be someone to blame in the event of a crash; Tachograph checked… 50mph there’s your criminal & person to blame regardless of who caused the crash. I drive HGV’s at 43 to 44mph on these roads, hopefully I’m not holding people up too much & I’d hope to be within the 10% allowed for speedometer error!

  15. The government led by wet cameron bottled it. What they should ave said is 80mph on motorway and woe betide anyone who exceeds that speed

  16. The French have one thing better than here in the UK, the speed limit is reduced in wet weather and a very sensible idea it is too.

  17. The national speed limit of 70mph on a dual carriageway is only for cars and car-derived vans up to 2.5 tons. Transits etc. are not car-derived and therefore they are limited to 60mph. They may however travel at up to 70mph on motorways. I also wonder whether Land Rovers and Range Rovers etc. also fall into the van category as traditional Land Rovers were always required to pull into the Tyne Tunnel inspection lane for vans and lorries. Wouldn’t that be fun! Car-derived vans are defined on the Highway code website as Astra/Escort type vans.

    Regarding driving standards and speed limits, some people should have a personal speed limit of zero mph applied with the ratchet on their handbrake welded in the locked on position. I was just driving to work this morning when a Focus lurched around the roundabout and positioned itself in front of me at about 5mph on a 40mph limited dual carriageway, right hand lane. It appeared that at first there was some serious thinking being undertaken by the driver who was completely oblivious to the existence of rear view mirrors and finally surged up to a speed of almost 20mph and travelled thus for half a mile to the next roundabout. They then issued a clear telepathic indication and positioned themselves astride the two lanes around the said roundabout and at a stunning speed of 10mph proceeded to return in the direction in which they had just come. No doubt they had wanted the second exit at the first roundabout and not the first. All this is so scary especially the use of telepathic indication and in the case of real indications they are either partial, to late or just wrong.
    Indications on roundabouts seem to be a mystery to many and are correctly summarised as:
    1. On approach and taking first exit, indicate left.
    2. On approach turning to the right of straight on, indicate right.
    3. Otherwise – no indication.
    4. On the roundabout, leaving at any exit, indicate left AFTER just passing the previous exit.

    Some people think that there are many other rules such as:
    1. Telepathic only – alias none.
    2. Straight on, indicate right, sorry I can’t give a reason!
    3. Right, indicate left all the way around, shows that you eventually intend to leave the roundabout, rather than setting up home and also gives a clear indication to other road users that you haven’t got a clue what to do or where you are going (probably in life) and should be avoided at all costs.

  18. @dib

    I agree with you that kids should not be overly protected and my two certainly aren’t. The point I was making was more that there is no need for a blanket speed limit there most of the time and perhaps a little more sophistication is needed. Another school nearby is in a residential area and there is no need for a special speed limit – the roads dictate sensibility.

    Can I open another can of worms – people drive differently in different parts of the country. e.g.
    – In London the pedals must be stamped on
    – In Durham people feel cheated if they don’t stop at a traffic light
    – In Yorkshire red lights allow a couple of cars through
    – In Lancashire indicators are optional and for decorative purposes only

  19. Raise the speed limits for the outside lane,give plenty of warnings to motorists for oncoming junctions,say 50mph mandatory limit on the first lane and camera to death the areas half a mile prior to junction-anyone leap-frogging to get to the junction 6 points and £500 fine, this above all else causes so many problems at peak traffic times its untrue.

  20. We don’t need higher speed limits on our motorways. Many drivers are unsafe at 50 never mind 80mph. Just because they have higher speed limits in Europe it does not mean we should follow their example.

    Don’t forget, it is a FACT that the UK has the lowest accident rate of any comparable country. Before people point to the German autobahn as an example of where the UK should be heading they should consider their worrying accident rate.

    I’ve driven on the continent and witnessed some frightening high speed incidents

  21. Normal moterway rules should not apply on the M25 with regard to middle lane hogging.Its safer to have 3/5 streams of traffic at slightly different speeds than cars continually changing lanes. The other thing is that the matrix boards with reduced speed limmits are being excessively there never seems to be a reason for it and the majority of drivers ignore them.M25 the inspirationh for Chris Rheas “road to hell”

  22. Why are you in such a hurry? what is so important that in order to get to it a few minutes sooner you would drive at such a speed that if something went wrong for you or someone else then death or serious injury would result? why not leave a bit earlier or find an occupation that does not have you “needing” to rush about?

    as a police advanced driving instructor told a cautious pupil. Whats wrong do want to live for ever?

  23. No one ever fell asleep whilst driving flat out on an Autobahn and Autobahnen would be safer places without East European trucks, Dutch caravans and Americans.
    I was told about 20 years ago by an ex-Police traffic inspector that there was no point in enforcing the 40mph limit for trucks because it would cause chaos if they did.
    Most of our problems in the UK stem from having politicians who are London based and have little or no interest in cars or driving.

  24. No one ever fell asleep whilst driving flat out on an Autobahn and Autobahnen would be safer places without East European trucks, Dutch caravans and Americans.
    I was told about 20 years ago by an ex-Police traffic inspector that there was no point in enforcing the 40mph limit for trucks because it would cause chaos if they did.
    Most of our problems in the UK stem from having politicians who are London based and have little or no interest in cars or driving.

    Post of the day!

  25. Autobahns often have two limits – unrestricted in good weather and 120KPH in the rain. We already have variable speed limits on many section of the Motorway – M25, M42, M6 in the Midlands to manage congestion. Why cant this technology be used to create condition related limits across the network, with cameras used to rigorously Police speed in poor weather conditions when it really matters?

  26. Thanks for repeating/agreeing with me 🙂

    But if these managed motorways can be expanded further, why not open up the speed limit during quieter periods on these routes? Why should we not see ’80′ on those gantry signs at certain times?

  27. I find it positively frightening that the idiots who currently drive on our roads may be allowed to go even faster. The standard of driving continues to be appalling despite tougher driving tests. Until we overhaul Joe Publics’s attitude to speeding, tailgating and road safety, There is no reason whatsoever to increase the speed limit.

    The continued preponderance of idiots on the road has forced the silent majority of reasonable drivers to accept burgeoning lowered speed limits in areas which are in no way dangerous. There is a tact acceptance that drivers will routinely travel at ‘speed limit + 10’ thus causing moron local authorities to reduce speed limits to the point that we will soon be all following a man with a red flag in towns.

    My [personal] opinion is that current limits should be rigorously enforced and that all motorways and major roads should have average speed checks over their entire length. The enforcement point should be the ‘10%+2’ error band that is enforced by most police forces.

    I drive about 20,000 miles per year and am frequently frustrated by the number of drivers who drive dangerously and exceed the speed limit by 20+ mph on the motorway. I recently went from Kent to Cheshire (M25/M1/M6) and was amazed by the number of cars [ok, mostly Audis] that were travelling well in excess of the limit on crowded roads.

    Basically this type of driving just leaves the rest of us open to the idiots in “Brake” and other anti-motorist organisations.

  28. There’s no uniform speed limit in other European countries. France is 130 km/h but Belgium and the Netherlands are 120.

    Anyway, what’s the point of everyone driving more fuel efficient cars, if you then increase the speed limit? On energy consumption alone, the limit should not be raised.

    Having said that, I travel to Germany often and always enjoy myself on the motorway when I get there, but do as I say, not as I do 🙂 Yes, an Avensis 2.0D will go at 140 mph (yes mph) downhill in 6th gear. It empties its tank pretty quickly at that speed too. QED.

  29. I have to disagree about managed motorways. I think they are a bad idea and even potentially dangerous. The problem is the draconian punishment we dish out for even minor speeding offences. It doesn’t take many minor slip ups to lose your licence. I have no points and don’t speed, but I can see how easy it is to get caught out.

    Driving north up the managed section of the M1, with heavyish traffic and poor driving conditions. I was doing 55, the signs said 60. Lots of people going slow ahead. I thought it was the usual paranoia about speed cameras.

    Then I saw quickly the signs changed, it was an absolute joke. It went 60/50/40, just like that. One minute you could be perfectly legal, the next caught by a camera 20mph over the limit.

    The result was lots of drivers driving way under the limit, or even braking everytime they came to a sign. Made worse by situations were there was a slow moving lorry, and going temporarily faster to overtake would be sensible. Or a panicked driver actually holding up a lorry, because they were going so slowly.

    The signs were a distraction, taking drivers attention from the road.

    Further north I entered a section without cameras, but with recommended speed signs. The conditions were similar to before, with simlar trafic levels. Trafic flowed much better, because people ignored the signs, and concentrated on the road ahead.

    They didn’t drive excessively fast, conditions were poor, and despite times when there were queues of stationary trafic ahead, everyone slowed down in good time.

    I think roads work best when they are simple, with minimal signs and simple lane layouts. So drivers can concentrate on the road.

  30. I could not agree with Bartelbe more . Managed motorways work well when people drive according to conditions rather than being fixated on what speed they are doing. The current obsession with speed has resulted in people staring at their speedometers and , correspondingly , failing to pay sufficient attention to what is going on around them. That is a recipe for disaster

  31. @34

    The current obsession with speed has resulted in people staring at their speedometers and, correspondingly, failing to pay sufficient attention to what is going on around them. That is a recipe for disaster

    Absolutely and totally agree with the two previous posts.

  32. Me too. It’s an imperfect solution, but from my experience gained regularly on the M1, it works. There are fewer hold-ups now, and people (not us, the enthusiasts – sadly, the minority) seem to respond better to being told what to do, and backed by the stick of being fined.

  33. Interesting stuff.

    Few points:

    – During conversion to km/h, Ireland raised the speed limit of motorways and National (ie. A road) dual carraigeways to 120km/h / 75mph. Other National routes have a limit of 100km/h / 62mph. However, Local routes (ie. B roads) were reduced to 80km/h / 50mph.

    – The speed limits for car derived vans are the same as those for cars, but differ for specially designed vans. So therefore, a 90s Ford Escort van can travel faster than a brand new Ford Transit Connect, or a mk1 Vauxhall Combo (Corsa based) can overtake a brand new Combo.
    Most vans, even small vans, are now dedicated van designs.
    Only exceptions possibly being those which are effectively cars with panelled in windows (eg. MINI ClubVan, Fiat Punto van etc.)

    – It isn’t so much HGVs on NSL roads that are the problem travelling at 40mph, it is usually a car driver who has decided that they feel comfortable driving at a maximum of 40mph. Despite the road being safe and visible to drive at 60mph. Overtaking is usually difficult though, due to curvature of the road and oncoming traffic.
    Whether this is because the car they first learnt to drive in felt safest at 40mph, or even a top speed of 40mph, or whether they don’t want to use 5th/6th gear, being used to 4 speed gearboxes, where the top end cruising speed in 4th gear might be 40mph.
    Or do they think that the 1973 Fuel Crisis speed limit is still active?

  34. The selfish behaviour of people driving certain makes of German luxury car will never change, regardless how much people rant and rave about it.

  35. The motorway/dual carriageway argument is fast becoming anachronistic. The number of people who do not exceed 70mph is on the increase due to rising petrol prices. This is hardly surprising given the big difference in fuel consumption between a vehicle being driven at 70mph & one going 80mph.

  36. I drive an LDV Pilot crew cab and was of the understanding that I can legally drive at 70mph on a dual carriageway because I have side windows, does anyone know if this is true still?

  37. Re: comment #39 – it would be interesting to see if there are any statistics to back up your assertion that people are slowing down because of increased petrol prices. Average speeds by motorway/junction are already available on websites like http://www.frixo.com, so the data is there.

    Personally, I haven’t noticed any increase in the number of slow drivers. On the motorways I use regularly (M4 and M40), 80mph seems to be the norm for cars.

  38. I would like to see more education of the current crop of drivers who, like me, may have passed their test over 10 years ago. We also need to address the problems of handheld tech being used whilst driving. I’ve had people in the middle lane doing 70+MPH and obviously talking on their handset. Speed is not the issue. It’s other distractions that cause accidents. Accidents can be reduced with education.

  39. On the back of my 1990 Mini Cooper I have the slogan;
    “with a BMW arrogance comes as standard”.

    I would like the speed limit to be 90 mph, so that I can cruise in my 1998 Jaguar XJR. But I have to accept that I am being selfish in desiring this.
    I think the problem is that however many of us would like a speed free for all, and deep down that is most of us, every time the politicians suggest raising the speed limit, the safety lobby trot out the victims and relatives of victims of car accidents on TV, and there is a climbdown. No politician wants to be seen allowing a situation that could cause fatalities, and maybe if we were a bereaved relatives we would have an alternative view.
    No doubt somewhere else on the world wide web, other people are expressing equally deeply felt anti-car views.

  40. As soon as road safety charity Brake see this they will probably want this website closed down. They love the word carnage over there.

  41. I would agree entirely with variable speed limits being expanded to cover the whole of the motorway system. As a driving instructor I find it unacceptable that no training is required on motorways before being allowed to drive on them. Learners are prohibited from using motorways so have no experience whatsoever upon gaining a licence. Surely some mandatory post test motorway training is essential. Take up of the Pass Plus course which includes motorway driving is miniscule. If young drivers aren’t properly trained to deal with motorways in the first place they won’t have the necessary skills to handle higher speed limits safely.

  42. I have always drove at an indicated 80 on dual carriageways and Mways , on my sat nav though my true speed at 80 on the speedometer is actually 74 mph. I would love to see de restricted Mways but it wont happen and IIRC even in Germany they are putting restrictions on previously unrestricted parts on the Autobahn network. Living in Berwick and having to enure the stinking single carriageway A1 to get anywhere, being stuck behing lorries doing 40 MPH is , for me , and even bigger problem than the 70 mph Mway limit. Lorries now are far more sophysticated with traction control and ABS disc braking systems , surely it is time to remove this restriction and allow them to do the NSL on every road.

  43. @45 , Russ , I live 70 miles from any Motorway , how would that work here? Would you not charge for the hour and a bit it takes for us to drive to the A1M or M8/9?? 😉

  44. By the way, I have driven over 6000 miles from the M-1 to less than B roads in the UK (1986-2002)and found much better lane speed discipline than the USA.
    In the USA, there is no ‘federal’ maximum speed, they are set by the states. On M road =, that is our Interstates or similar roads, speed limits vary from 50 in urban areas to 75 max. Some states limit commercial trucks over 20,000 GW and vehicles with trailers speeds to 55-60 for safety reasons if cars have a speed limit of 65 or higher. Many fleet heavy truck operators have speed controls of a max of 62-66 MPH to balance fuel efficiency yet keep up reasonable pace with traffic. Some roads have lower limits at night 5-10 MPH less). Some Interstate class roads have minimum speed limits of 40 MPG for safety. Most 2 lane roads have speed limits for all vehicles, of 50 MPH outside of towns. Some roads do have variable speed limits where enough volume or safety risks like from fog, accidents ahead, congestion relief.

  45. The recent 130 car pile up on the bridge in the Medway Kent, is a perfect illustration of why spped limits should not be raised.

    There are an average of 10 deaths per day on the roads.

    There must be very few families who have not lost a friend/ neighbour/ relative due to a road traffic accident.

    The target should be zero deaths not raising the speed limits.
    The car manufacturers are culpable for glamourisation of the car by needlessly aggressive lifestyle vehicles they stupidly produce.

  46. Speed in itself doesn’t kill. It’s poor driving. Big difference.

    One witness said visibility had been very poor at the time of the crash but drivers were approaching the crossing with no lights.

    In other words, stupid people driving without their lights on in fog. Big difference.

  47. It aint the cars or the motorways or the speed limits,its the twats behind the wheel. Just like guns dont kill people.

    Nothing wrong with raising the speed limit,its down to folk reading the road and adjusting their speed to suit,all the nonsense starts at 6,7 and 8 am and then starts again at 5,6 and 6.30 pm, i wonder why?

  48. @47:

    “Russ , I live 70 miles from any Motorway , how would that work here? Would you not charge for the hour and a bit it takes for us to drive to the A1M or M8/9?? ”

    Duncan, you know fine that some nice rural roads can let you get places faster than Midlands motorways! I’m still adjusting to the idea that somewhere 20 miles away is 40-50 minutes, not 20 minutes… and most of those minutes will be spent looking at 3 rows of crawling nose-to-tail traffic.

  49. Just a little political correction. This proposal would be except for viewers in Scotland.
    It would not be a change to the “UK” speed limit, just England and Wales.
    Transport matters are devolved to the Scottish Parliament and as far as I know they have no intention of raising limit. There are far fewer suitable M-ways north of the border anyway.

  50. @14 / MM

    I see my point has completely been bypassed. It was not the fact they are driving at 50, it’s the fact they are seemingly completely oblivious to what is going on around them.

    When I say “max out” at 50, I meant that they are dawdling along the (NSL) road between 30 and 50 – in clear, “perfect” conditions. And yet when they reach the bit of road where they NEED to be doing 30 they continue on the same oblivious rate – anything but the 30 they should be doing (the ever increasing gap between me an them being the clue, only to catch-up with them again when it returns to NSL).

    Fair point about the cost of fuel, but I’m sorry, if you can’t take the heat, get out of the fire. If you can’t afford to fuel a three-year-old Range Rover, then I think someone’s priorities are completely wrong.

    As has been stated repeatedly above (and this point seems to escape some people – probably the people I’m stuck behind), that speed in itself doesn’t kill. It’s poor driving that does. Big difference.

  51. Unfortunately, speed is the easiest target for the road safety lobby to protest about. There’s very little call from them for additional driver training or anything else that will actually improve the skills and awareness of the average driver. Probably because raising skill levels will result in drivers being able to drive safely at higher speeds, and that would mean they’d have to find a replacement for their publicity grabbing ‘speed kills’ message.

  52. The 40 mph speed limit is a nightmare if you get stuck behind a lorry on the A595, where there are few decent overtaking opportunities and you can be stuck behind a lorry for 25 miles. I’m sure this is a bigger threat to road safety than someone doing 80 mph on a deserted motorway, as everyone wants to get past the slow moving lorry and sometimes overtakes with fatal results, same as the too old to drive brigade who insist on driving their Hyundai Accents no faster than 30 even on dual carriageways.
    I would say on the motorways reset the speed cameras only to flash above 85 mph in good conditions, and to rigorously enforce temporary speed limits in roadworks and poor conditions, as this is where accidents happen.

  53. Some of the most prolific accident blackspots have had their road markings and street furniture (posh for signs) removed and it has improved the roads overnight,although they was a pilot scheme it worked.

    Its a shame the overhead gantries on motorways with the elctronic messages are not refreshed or switched off when a hazard has passed. Even today on the M62 it was a crawl due to a C1 and a A4 involved in a minor bump all down to a couple of rubber necks gawping at them on the hard shoulder caused a domino effect of stoppages.

  54. I’m probably going to be really unpopular on this one but I firmly believe that there has never been a bad road in the history of road making (except in terms of its actual surface).
    The road (whether it be the A14 or a jungle track through Kenya) is a challenge. It should be understood and mastered by the driver. If the road has a history of accidents it is still just a road – a totally inanimate object that has to be conquered by the living organism – man.
    If all roads were scrapped and rebuilt tomorrow using latest technology and developments then I would put a substantial weight of responsibility on the designers. But our roads are evolved – mostly from Neolithic highways, Roman routes and farm tracks.
    I believe we must take responsibility – drive decent. Stop blaming everyone else for everything else!

  55. I wouldn’t say that your viewpoint was unpopular, but I think it overlooks the fact that there has been a terrible modern tendency to clutter road junctions with traffic signs which constitute in themselves a great hazard. One sees approaches to juctions where there are 5 or 6 or even more separate poles carrying signs, all of which serve to obstruct the view of drivers emerging into the road from a side turning. Physical geography of roads is largely unalterable, I agree, but it is these avoidable hazards which make ” bad roads “

  56. When the governmnt increased the speed limits on about half of the motorways in Denmark from 110 Kmh to 130 Kmh ( about 85 mph), the road safety organisations went bezerk, with claims that it would be the end of civilization as we know it, that the road drains would be overflowing with the blood of innocents, and Mad Max would rule. It actual fact the accident rate DROPPED drastically from about 350 deaths a year i 2004 when the limits were raised to about 170 last year

  57. A very interesting read of such a controversial subject-plenty of balance here!
    By the way -I have just returned from spending a couple of weeks driving on Malta–now there is an experience–the only rule –there isn’t one – though there are plenty of signs!!

  58. I think the main problem is that we all seem to be in a rush to get somewhere. Most cars on the UK roads in the day time are fleet cars (company cars, fleet and pool cars etc) , therefore someone else is paying the fuel and upkeep bill. As a result this has given rise to the ” I just want to floor it everywhere” culture. Cars and other vehicles have improved immensely since the dawn of motorways, but with the amount of vehicles on the road and the level of road maintenance being carried out burying the throttle for long periods just isn’t possible . Trucks and PSV’s are restricted to low speeds thanks to the EU and the do gooders brigade and as a result they are contributing to slowing the traffic flow up. I regularly drive across mainland Europe from northwest Germany back to the UK and sit at about 70-75 mph all the way. IMHO this gives a good compromise between fuel comsumption (I am paying my own fuel bill and car upkeep after all) and actually getting there. A lot of my friends and colleagues will more than happily open the taps on their hot hatches, sports saloons , coupes etc, but don’t seem to get to Calais any quicker really, burn a lot more fuel in the process and wonder why their cars are eating their tyres. The speed limit for the UK of 70mph is IMHO quite adequate for our small island but if conditions permit cars adequately spaced and sensibly driven doing 80-90 mph are necessary to keep the flow moving. The cause of congestion is not “Sheer weight of traffic” (My God I hate that term) but people who are exceeding the limit excessively then either having to swerve across all 3/4 lanes for their exit or those that see a police car and jump on their brakes and slow from 95mph to 68mph as soon as the laws of physics will allow . Maybe driver training on motorways will help but all that is really needed is for people to be less aggressive, selfish and plan their journeys better.

  59. Kev@66
    Agreed.
    According to the Police, RoSPA and other motoring organisations, the inexplicable traffic queues are caused by the ‘domino’ effect of drivers driving too close and the over-reacting to a speed decrease – the same speed decrease that would be absorbed by correct 2/3second distancing.
    This is a provable mathematical fact and me being a very reasonable fellow not given to rantings or over zealous comments think that any driver found tailgating should simply have their licence taken away for 30 years, have their right keg amputated at the knee, be forced to her never see their kids again and wear a large and very silly hat for the rest of their lives.

  60. O’h dear. For keg read leg. Delete the unwanted ‘her’ in the last line.
    Stupid boy. Don’t tell ’em your name Pike!

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