It’s one of the most frustrating things about driving through motorway roadworks. Trying to keep your speed down to a steady 50 miles per hour, especially where there are speed cameras to catch out offenders. However, all this could soon be set to change. The Government is currently trialling raising the speed limit on motorway roadworks from 50 miles per hour to 60 miles per hour. At present, this is only on a small stretch of the M1 northbound near Rotherham. If it proves successful, it could be rolled out nationwide.
To coincide with this, the transport minister, John Hayes has requested that the Highways Agency consider opening more lanes during roadworks and limiting the length of roadworks to 10 miles. This will be very important in coming years as the Highways Agency is increasing the number, and length of roadworks as it converts over 4000 miles of English motorways to “smart” motorways. These new motorways will feature variable speed limits and hard shoulder access during peak congestion times. Considering that it’s estimated there may be as much as a 55% rise in new and used cars on the roads by 2040, you can see how our road infrastructure is a ticking time bomb. Good for those motor traders that clock up a number of miles.
The news has been welcomed by the President of the AA, Edmund King. He explained that there are areas of roadworks currently 25 miles long with 50 miles per hour speed limits in place, this makes it very difficult for drivers to concentrate on a speed for that length of time. He believes that shorter roadworks would be safer for drivers. Improving concentration and hopefully fewer accidents, which means less insurance policy price rises, and happier motorists all round.
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Not everybody shares his enthusiasm though. The acting general secretary of the Ucatt Union Brian Rye stated the change would make working on motorways twice as dangerous. His Union, which represents road workers is very concerned and has gone as far as to state that workers will die if the new increased speed limit goes ahead. He believes that the 50 mph limit is plenty, as less accelerating and braking results in better traffic flow.
We will have to wait and see how well the trial goes on the M1. If it is a success and Union worries can be allayed, the Highways Agency plans to extend this speed increase to other roadworks in 2017, a move that will be welcomed by motorists.