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Speed limit increase back on the agenda?

The government is reconsidering plans to increase the speed limit on Britain's motorways to 80mph. The plans had initially been dropped in June after surveys revealed that the move could alienate women voters. This research data revealed that around 40% of women wanted the speed limit to remain at 70mph.

The government is reconsidering plans to increase the speed limit on Britain's motorways to 80mph. The plans had initially been dropped in June after surveys revealed that the move could alienate women voters. This research data revealed that around 40% of women wanted the speed limit to remain at 70mph. The plan to raise the limit was first floated by the then Transport Secretary, Phillip Hammond, at the Conservative Party conference in 2011. The proposal seemed to have been kicked into the long grass by his successor, Patrick McLoughlin, who indicated that the plan was 'not a priority.'

Another transport minister, however, Stephen Hammond, has now said that the plan is not dead, although ministers in the coalition government remain divided over the issue. He revealed that the government had 'not stopped work' on an 80mph limit and continued: "Philip Hammond is a great supporter of 80 miles per hour. He thinks it's the right thing to do. That's not a universal view among my colleagues and at the moment, because there are a huge number of other things on, we have not stopped work on it but it's not a priority. Given that a lot of people travel at 80 miles per hour and we could enforce 80 miles per hour, at some stage we will want to come back and look at it."

Mr Stephen Hammond claimed to be unaware of why the policy had been dropped back in June and refused to confirm if he personally was in the habit of driving at 80mph on the motorway. In the past, fears have been raised that increasing the speed limit to 80mph will simply mean people driving at 90mph, as speed cameras traditionally give the drive some leeway of perhaps around 10% over the speed limit. This could be countered by having average speed cameras on our motorways but the expense for blanket national coverage across the network would be high.

Supporters of the move claim that it would be good for the economy by cutting down on jams and allowing faster journey times. They also point out that cars are much safer, with far better braking distances than when the limit was first introduced. The UK has one of the lower speed limits in Europe. Italy and France both have a limit of 81mph and Germany does not impose a speed limit on some autobahns at all. The current 70mph limit in the UK is routinely exceeded by many drivers, with studies showing that around 50% of all drivers regularly exceed 70mph.

 

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