The speed limit on Britain’s motorways looks set to increase to 80 miles per hour - the first time it has gone up since 1965.
Philip Hammond, the Transport Secretary, will launch a consultation later this year, with the change likely to take place in 2013.
The Government claims that as many as 49 per cent of drivers currently flout the 70mph limit, and they argue raising the limit to 80mph would mean that millions of otherwise law-abiding motorists would be brought back inside the boundary.
The coalition argues that technological advances mean that cars are significantly safer than they were - contributing to a fall of more that 75 per cent in the number of people killed on British roads since 1965.
Mr Hammond said: “Britain’s roads should be the arteries of a healthy economy and cars are a vital lifeline for many. Yet for years Labour’s shortsighted and misguided war on the motorist unfairly penalised drivers.
“So it is time for action – which is why this Government has already scrapped the M4 bus lane, cut central government funding for money-making speed cameras and announced new measures to crack down on boy racers and reckless drivers while standing up for the decent majority.
“Now it is time to put Britain back in the fast lane of global economies and look again at the motorway speed limit which is nearly 50 years old, and out of date thanks to huge advances in safety and motoring technology.
“Increasing the motorway speed limit to 80 mph would generate economic benefits of hundreds of millions of pounds through shorter journey times. So we will consult later this year on raising the limit to get Britain moving.”
The Government insists road safety is a top priority and action is being taken to tackle uninsured driving and help police enforce against drink and drug driving, but says safety cannot be the only consideration when setting speed limits.
Previous analysis shows that raising the motorway speed limit would generate significant economic benefits, particularly from savings of travel time.
Initial work by the department suggests that setting the motorway speed limit at 80 mph is likely to represent the best balance of costs and benefits and it is similar to the motorway speed limit in other EU countries.
Emma Gibson, Greenpeace’s senior transport campaigner, said: “The Saudi oil minister will rub his hands with glee when he learns of Philip Hammond’s decision. At a time when North Sea oil production is going down and we are ever more reliant upon unstable regimes and fragile environments to fuel our cars, the Transport Secretary’s decision will raise oil consumption and carbon emissions when we need to cut both.”
Ellen Booth, from the campaign group Brake, said: “The Government should be looking to reduce the number of deaths and injuries on our road, not putting forward proposals which are likely to increase them. We work closely with families of those who have died in car crashes and for every statistic there are real people who are suffering.”
Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “There are good reasons for making 80 the new 70, and good reasons not to. Drivers travelling that 10mph quicker might reach their destination sooner (1), but will use about 20 per cent more fuel and emit 20 per cent more CO2.
“There is also likely to be a slight increase in road casualties. And what about enforcement? If police follow existing guidelines, many people could do 90mph before action is taken.”
Stephen Joseph, chief executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said: “Increasing the motorway speed limit to 80mph would not help the economy and would increase costs for drivers.
“It would also add to pollution and increase road casualties. Responsible motorists know that driving steadily at or below 70mph is most fuel-efficient, reduces jams and is safer.”
Hmmm....we have four different groups expressing opinions against the government proposal, but, there are no published opinions of groups agreeing with the proposal. This is a clever method that newspapers use to try and convince you of their opionion, without making it look like they are actively involved in the debate itself.
Former Australian Prime-Minister was a master at this game during his time in office.
When will the change happen?
If the proposal becomes law, the top speed will change from 70mph to 80mph in 2013. William Hill is offering odds of 1-2 that the speed limit will be between 76 and 80mph by the end of that year. The current national limit was set in 1965.
Will the higher limit affect fuel consumption?
Yes. According to Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, travellers will use about 20 per cent more fuel and emit 20 per cent more carbon dioxide. Over 1,000 miles, that will cost the average car user £33 more in petrol.
Really? based on what type of tests?? Using what type of fuel? And what does carbon have to do with anything? It certainly appears that there is an 'acceptance' of the 'carbon as a danger' philosophy in play here which is quite disingenuous.
Do most drivers obey motorway speed limits?
Figures from the Department for Transport suggest that nearly half (49 per cent) of cars flout the current 70mph maximum and one in seven has been recorded travelling at 80mph or faster.
Interesting language they employ, 'flouting' & 'obey". They are presumptive opinions of the newspapers, incidentally also applied by the Murdoch press in Australia. The Times is a Murdoch owned paper?? I can't recall, maybe someone can confirm one way or another in the comments box below. At any rate, the key point here that has been missed by the newspapers is that 49% is a pretty conclusive illustration of the public will, and rather than acquiesce to the public will, the Government corporations seeks to capitalise on it. Why is the Times not supporting will? Possibly for the same reason that they only printed groups with one opinion on this topic. The Times opinion, though not actively expressed, could not be any clearer to the analytical & conscious consumer of this story. The majority however will not actually comprehend that they are being played and manipulated.
Currently, most police forces allow drivers caught speeding at up to 86mph on motorways to avoid points on their licence by taking a speed awareness course.
Will it lead to an increase in motorway accidents?
Supporters of the plan believe that drivers are likely to take greater care at the higher speed (2), but the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety, a campaign group, has estimated that raising the motorway limit will increase casualties by 5 to 10 per cent. There were 132 motorway deaths in 2009, the last year for which figures are available.
This is the second occasion that the agumentative essay writing technique, whereby you contain an element of an opposing argument by expressing it and then exposing why it is wrong. In a situation like this, it looks like the newspaper is taking a balanced, unbiased approach to the story. Don't be fooled, it is not. This is a simple technique that you were taught in high school.
Do 20mph zones in urban areas save lives?
A study in 2009 concluded that 20mph speed zones cut road injuries in London by more than 40 per cent, and had the potential to prevent up to 700 casualties in London alone. Only one in forty pedestrians is killed if hit at 20mph, compared with one in five at 30mph.
Cheeky and mischevious usage of logic. Do you really need a study to comprehend that you will inflict more damage with a car @ 100 mph, than you will @ 2o mph?
You will also inflict more damage in a car @ 20 mph than you will in a car @ 5 mph, so maybe we should just ban cars all together? Maybe, push-bikes too because studies have shown that a bike riding @ 20 mph will do more damage than a .... you get the logic.
This is known as a self-evident truth.
Is there widespread support for the change?
An AA poll in March found that two thirds of members favoured an increase in the speed limit.
Seems pretty conclusive to me, 49%, 2/3, or 66%. Not that the public will seems to have any bearing on the newspapers opinion in this piece.