Comments by Transport Secretary Philip Hammond that driving faster on UK motorways could cut journey times and improve productivity have sparked a response from speed awareness campaigners Coyote.
Coyote says this justification for raising the motorway limit to 80mph sends out completely the wrong signal to drivers and makes a mockery of road safety policy.
Coyote also points to the increasing cost to motorists that would result from any such change. With higher speed comes higher fuel consumption – driving at 80mph could use up to 20% more fuel than at 70mph - adding further costs to embattled motorists already struggling with record fuel prices. Add to this the environmental impact from increased CO2 emissions and the benefits of a higher limit seem less clear cut.
The UK announcement is in stark contrast to news from Spain that it will be cutting its national speed limit from the current 120kph (75mph) to 110kph (68mph) in an effort to cut fuel use and reduce the country’s reliance on foreign oil imports. Other measures will include a 5% reduction in train fares as the Government tries to stimulate a switch from road traffic to public transport.
Andrew Smith, managing director of Cobra UK, the UK distributors of the Mini Coyote speed camera alert system, said: “On the UK’s already congested motorways, is it really sensible to suggest that drivers increase their speed in order to get to their destination quicker?
“Road safety has always been, and must remain, the principal driver behind any change in policy – this suggestion appears to signal a worrying change of emphasis.”
Coyote’s safety concerns are supported by the Parliamentary Advisory Council on Transport Safety (PACTS), whose own research suggests that motorway casualties could rise by between 5 and 10 per cent if an 80mph limit was introduced.
“An extra 10mph on the motorway is not going to make any meaningful change to individual journey times and certainly can’t outweigh the potential safety risks, wasteful fuel use and loss of natural resources that are already rapidly running out,” added Andrew.
“We welcome the government’s relentless drive to tackle the UK’s economic difficulties, however using it as justification for this latest idea just doesn’t seem credible.”