Motorway speed limits can be raised ‘if public accept’

Motorway speed limits can be raised ‘if public accept’
A top transport official claims motorway speed limits could be raised – but only if public opinion changes.

Jim O’Sullivan, CEO of Highways England, believes the existing 70mph limit for motorways is embedded in British consciousness.

But he says an increase to 80mph on stretches of the network is a possibility, should higher speeds become socially acceptable.

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Highways England recently announced plans to increase motorway roadwork speed limits from 50mph to 60mph, following a trial period on the M1.

But as Mr O’Sullivan noted, any move away from the current standard 70mph limit on motorways remains some way off.

He said: “We have not done a formal safety analysis but there are parts of the network that subject to a safety analysis could probably operate at 80 miles an hour.

“I think there is a technical argument about speed and safety of vehicles etc but I think 70 miles per hour is so socially embedded in this country that I think it is probably not going to change, in fact it’s almost certainly not going to change.”

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In the same interview, Mr O’Sullivan also shared his thoughts on autonomous vehicles, including the Chancellor Phillip Hammond’s desire to have fully-automated cars on the UK’s roads by 2021.

Mr O’Sullivan claims that despite Government initiatives, conventional motor cars remain a “long way from being phased off the strategic road network”.

However, he added: “Ultimately I can see a world in the very distant future where they don’t come out onto the strategic road network.”

Highways England is a Government-owned organisation that operates and maintains England’s motorways and major A-roads.

Copyright Press Association 2018. Motoring News articles do not reflect the RAC's views unless clearly stated.

Did you know, you can get fined for moving out of the way of an ambulance?

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