The recent news that motorway speed limits could be increased to 80mph has drawn angry criticism from environmental groups as well those who campaign for road safety. While these are predictable, it was less predictable that the move was welcomed by most of the UK’s motoring organisations.
A spokesperson from the RAC has said, “We think that generally the speed increase is a good idea. The problem is the question of how strictly it is going to be enforced. Right now we see people travelling at 80 and the police largely turning a blind eye. If people were travelling at 90 without punishment this would be quite a serious concern.”
Around 70% of members of the AA support the move towards a higher motorway speed limit and the president of the group Edmund King has said that the news is certainty welcome. He has said that it would not be a good idea if the limit was not properly enforced, he commented, “If people can interpret the speed limit however they want this does not encourage safe roads, especially in built up areas.”
Unfortunately no one knows yet how much the new limit will be enforced as enforcement is down to each individual police area. Generally the current formula is the limit plus ten percent and an extra two miles and hour. This allows drivers to avoid points and gives the maximum speed limit on motorways to be 79mph if they want to avoid a ticket.
There have been many arguments that people who want a higher limit have put forward and most of these are well reasoned. The government has conducted research though that clearly indicates that higher speeds mean more deaths. A road safety charity, Brake, has said, “We don’t think it is a good idea to increase the speed limit when there are clear statistics that show if the government do raise the limit more people are going to die.” Environmental groups have also pointed out that driving at 80mpg affects the fuel efficiency of cars greatly and can mean they consume up to 25% more fuel than if they were travelling at 70mph.