Motorway Facing 60mph Limit

Monday, 13 January 2014

The Highways Agency has begun consultation on proposals to limit speeds on the M1 to just 60mph, sparking concerns over a potential back-door reduction to the national speed limit.

If they go ahead, the proposals would see a compulsory 60mph speed limit introduced to the M1 stretch between Junction 28 at Mansfield and Junction 35a at Sheffield, operational between 7am and 7pm.

The government has only recently abandoned plans to raise the limit to 80mph, after the Highways Agency argued that the introduction of 'smart motorway' schemes (which use the hard shoulder to ease congestion) would have a negative impact on local air quality if they continued to operate with the current 70mph limit.

As well as concerns over local air quality, there have been suggestions that the government will miss EU emissions targets after underestimating pollution levels on Britain's roads. If the targets are missed, the UK gets fined.

Speaking to The Independent, Roads Minister Robert Goodwill was keen to emphasise that the changes were not viewed as a permanent solution: “Any speed restrictions to improve air quality would be temporary, only ever considered as part of road improvement work and would not be appropriate for the vast majority of projects started in this Parliament.”

However, shadow Transport Secretary Mary Creagh argued that the piecemeal changes will only confuse motorists - potentially leading to accidents and avoidable car insurance claims - as they already have to adapt to variable speed limits on Britain's busy highways.

Motorists and environmental campaigners will likely be keen to seek a more permanent and effective solution to UK air pollution. Perhaps the government needs to take a leaf out of China's book and introduce electric car 'vending machines', which allow drivers to rent electric vehicles for short journeys, and deliver them back to any outlet – a potentially more popular solution than slowing down journey times!


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