Labour backs 80mph motorway increase

Published: 21/03/2012

After originally opposing the proposed changes to increase the maximum speed limit on our motorways to 80mph, the Labour government are now backing the move.

The decision to support the rise does however come with three conditions:

  1. Setting tough rules on what constitutes breaking the new speed limit to avoid “speed creep” and an ever higher de facto limit.
  2. Reviewing the use of the new variable limit after 12 months and report back to Parliament before it becomes permanent.
  3. Restoring the national targets to cut death and serious injuries on Britain’s road, axed by the Government after the election.

Despite making up 20 per cent of traffic, motorways are seen as the UK safest roads. In 2010, only 6 per cent of fatalities occurred on motorways compared to 40 per cent on rural A roads and a further 22 per cent on other rural roads.

Yet despite this, Labour’s U turn has enraged some green campaigners, amongst them Friends of the Earth’s Head of Campaigns, Andrew Pendleton:

“Hurtling along at 80mph will make our roads less safe, burn more fuel and make British motoring even more dependent on imported oil.”¹

His views are not shared by Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) Chief Executive, Simon Best who believes the changes may not impact on safety or increases in carbon emissions as much as campaigners fear:

“Raising the motorway speed limit has been debated for many years, and the evidence is that the motoring public are ready for it.

“A fifth of motorway-users already travel at this increased speed, and more than half exceed 72mph when they can, suggesting that a properly controlled 80mph limit may not show huge increases in carbon or road casualties.”¹

¹Daily Mail (Feb 2012)

Content correct at time of publication

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