UK Contemplates 80 MPH Speed Limit

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
uk contemplates 80 mph speed limit

The Daily Mail reports

Motorway speed limits could rise to 80 mph to shorten journey times and boost the economy under a radical review of road safety, Transport Secretary Philip Hammond signalled today.

He is concerned that anti-car campaigners have for too long used ‘road safety’ as a convenient excuse to both stymie raising speed the limit on motorways from the current 70mph, and to push for more 20mph zones in urban areas – even when they are inappropriate.

Britain has some of the safest roads in Europe, and within that motorways are by far the safest.

In future, Mr Hammond will demand that safety alone cannot be the sole determining factor when changing limits and that a thorough cost-benefit analysis which takes into account the economic impact must also be carried out when deciding such matters.

Now, imagine that lede in the US media. Tough, innit?

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  • 210delray 210delray on Mar 02, 2011

    Ronnie, you're complaining about "low" speed limits in Michigan? You guys get to legally go 70 mph on freeways within the Detroit metro area (though not inside the city limits as I recall). You'd never see that happen in VA, where we recently upped our rural Interstate speed limits to 70. And it would be absolutely verboten to see such a road posted above 55 mph in PA or NY, the land of low speed limits. Also, I remember Telegraph Road having a 50 mph speed limit. Woodward Avenue has 50 mph limit also, at least farther out. DC is probably the most absurd place of all that I'm familiar with. There's essentially a blanket 25 mph speed limit on all surface streets, and many freeways are posted at 40 mph. I don't think there's a place in the city posted above 50.

  • Dm123 Dm123 on Mar 02, 2011

    I know one TG presenter would be rather happy...

  • Diesel Fuel Only Diesel Fuel Only on Mar 03, 2011

    I also wonder what effect the higher speed limits will have on road noise. The Brits are pretty protective of their countryside after all. Is there an appreciable amount of road noise, say one mile from the motorway, at 75 or 80 vs. 55 or 60, or does it not make that much difference?

  • Jcwconsult Jcwconsult on Mar 16, 2011

    Contrary to the naysayers who often have a financial stake in having under posted speed limits, this change will improve safety in Great Britain and likely contribute to a small but statistically-significant drop in the nationwide fatality rate per mile traveled. The 85th percentile speed (the speed at or below which 85% of the free flowing traffic travels in good conditions) has been in the range of 79 to 81 mph for many years. Engineers know that setting the posted limit at the 85th percentile speed tends to reduce the accident rate and promote the smoothest and safest flow of traffic, though politicians do not always utilize the engineers' expertise. Using the 85th percentile speed as the key factor to set speed limits to maximize safety was the norm some 20 years ago when Britain led the world in the year-over-year reductions in the fatality rate. This move, along with the removal of many speed cameras in areas with under posted speed limits, shows that Britain is slowly returning to sound traffic management policies based on safety, NOT on ticket revenue collected from safe drivers. One way the change will improve safety is to move more traffic from nearby A and B roads to the Motorways where the accident rate per mile traveled is up to 8 times lower, as the article noted, because the normal speeds of traffic will now be legal. The change should apply both day and night on any rural Motorway where the actual 85th percentile speed is anywhere near 80 mph. We are frequent visitors to Britain to see my wife's relatives in West Yorkshire, so the change will be personally beneficial to my family. I am 66 years old, licensed for 50 years, well over a 1 million mile driver with driving experience in 16 major countries plus several minor ones. Regards, James C. Walker, Board Member, National Motorists Association Foundation (similar to the Association of British Drivers),, Ann Arbor, Michigan USA