The Department for Transport’s (DfT) plans for changes to driving speed limits could lead to some dual carriageways having higher speed limits than some stretches of motorway, it emerged yesterday.
The DfT has proposed to raise the motorway speed limit to 129km/h (80mph), but said the “engineering and environment” of some stretches of motorway may mean they have to retain a 70mph (113km/h) limit.
However, it said it is considering whether some “high standard, near-motorway dual carriageways” could have their speed limit raised to 129km/h. The DfT said it would implement this on a case by case basis, rather than as a new default speed limit for all dual carriageways.
Transport secretary Philip Hammond yesterday officially announced his intention to consult on raising the national speed limit on motorways to 129km/h by 2013, after unofficially discussing it last week. The government plans to launch a full public consultation on the issue later this year.
The Chartered Institution of Highways & Transportation (CIHT) yesterday argued that the change in speeds could lead to increased road casualties — but the DfT said that “safety cannot be the only consideration when setting speed limits”.
Technological advances since 1965 — when the current speed limit of 70mph (113km/h) was instated — mean that cars are significantly safer and the number of people killed on British roads has dropped by more than 75%, the DfT said.
“While we must ensure that our roads remain among the safest in the world, we must also consider the huge economic benefits that can be created by shortening journey times,” said Hammond. “Increasing the speed limit on motorways … could provide hundreds of millions of pounds of benefits for the economy.
“Previous analysis shows that raising the motorway speed limit would generate significant economic benefits, worth hundreds of millions of pounds per year from savings of travel time.”