The speed limit on British motorways could be raised to 80mph, according to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps
Mr Shapps said that “there is an argument” for raising the speed limit on motorways and dual carriageways, the Daily Telegraph has reported.
He said that concerns over the extra pollution that would accompany increased speeds had previously halted discussions on the matter but, with the rising number of vehicles with zero tailpipe emissions, the matter should now be revisited.
Speaking at a transport debate during the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, Mr Shapps said: “On 80mph speed limits, I’ve been thinking about this issue and maybe even sought advice on the subject of late.
“I think there is an argument for looking at our speed limits, both in terms of higher speed limits and actually lower limits – 20mph outside of schools.
“When it was last looked at in 2011, it was thought the carbon emission addition would be too great.
“But since I am a driver of an electric car myself I got to thinking about whether that would still be the case.
“I think there is an argument that once you have increased the level of electrification and therefore decreased or entirely removed carbon, that you might look at those things again.”
Figures from the SMMT show a 71 per cent year-on-year increase in EV registrations.
However, they still account for just one per cent of all new vehicles registered in the UK.
Petrol vehicles, which produce higher levels of CO2 than equivalent diesels, account for 66 per cent of all registrations.
“An issue of safety”
RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “Any move to raise speed limits on motorways to 80mph is fundamentally an issue of safety.
“Part of the problem is that at present, there is a high proportion of drivers that break the 70mph limit, and drive nearer to 80mph.
“If the speed limit were to be changed to 80mph, there is a risk that the new default becomes even higher.
“Our motorways are currently the safest roads on the entire network, and we wouldn’t want to see anything happen that changes this.
“So unless there is compelling evidence that a change in the limit on some stretches of road would not adversely affect safety, the current limit should be retained.”
“A step in the wrong direction”
A spokesperson for road safety charity, Brake said: “Given that speed is a critical factor in the severity of collisions, any move to increase the limit is a step in the wrong direction.
“Stopping distances at 80mph are over 120m – the equivalent of 30 car lengths and six car lengths more than at 70mph.
“Strict enforcement of the current speed limit and investment in on our high-speed road network with safety as the priority should be the focus, not an increase in speed.”
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