Speed limits for motorway roadworks to be increased from 50mph to 60mph within months to ease congestion and boost safetyMon, 23/10/2017
Temporary speed limits to reduce the speed of traffic through roadworks can be frustrating for drivers. However, the 50mph speed limit may be set to increase to 60mph in an attempt to ease congestion on UK motorways.
Fionn Hargreaves, The Daily Mail, reports:
Speed limits for motorway roadworks will be increased from 50mph to 60mph in a bid to make roads safer and less congested.
Highways England is set to introduce the higher limit early next year after a study found drivers felt more relaxed travelling at speed.
It is also hoped that the measure will help to improve congestion caused by the ongoing works.
The Government is investing £50million towards 30 large-scale motorway improvement projects.
But Highways England is looking at ways to ease congestion after it was announced that 16 road-building projects would be delayed by up to two years.
Chief executive Jim O'Sullivan admitted the number of roadworks is 'reaching a peak'.
'If we're going to have this volume of roadworks we need to have some serious thought about how we improve the customer experience,' he told The Times.
He added that he wanted to introduce the higher speed limit to 'as many roadworks as possible'.
Tests using specialist equipment including heart monitors found six in ten motorists had a lower heart rate while driving at 60mph. Drivers' cars were fitted with dashboard cameras and GPS monitors to track their reactions at 55mph and 60mph.
Motorists were found to be more relaxed because at 60mph they could outpace large intimidating lorries, most of which are fitted with 56mph speed limiters.
Motorists currently face a £100 fine if they travel through motorway roadworks faster than 50mph.
Tens of thousands of drivers have received fines after being caught by average-speed cameras in areas covered by temporary 50mph limits. One camera along the M6 in Cheshire caught 1,600 motorists in one morning in 2015.
Following two trials by Highways England this year, the higher speed limit will face safety reviews before Christmas. It will be introduced at night on sites where no workers are present.
Currently, the M1 has seven miles of roadworks between Junctions 23a and 25.
Elsewhere the M6 hard shoulder is being turned into an extra lane between Junctions 16 and 19, while road improvements are carried out.
Highways England is also working on 150 other projects on smaller roads. In addition, utility companies digging up roads is adding to the congestion across the country.
It has led the Department of Transport to consider charging companies up to £2,500 an hour to shut smaller roads.
A spokesman for the RAC said the new speed limit was good news for motorists. 'It should help to improve the flow of traffic, which often builds up well ahead of motorway roadworks,' he said.
'Where safe to do so, increasing the limit through roadworks will provide better, more reliable journeys … [it] also enables motorists who feel threatened by the close proximity of HGVs in roadworks to free themselves.'
Any measure taken to improve the flow of traffic through roadworks is undoubtedly welcome amongst all drivers, but it’s important to remember that roadworks are necessary for repairs and improvements. Whilst they are notorious for causing delays, they are imperative in sustaining the safety of our roads.