Motorway roadworks speed limit raising from 50mph to 60mph

Published 27 July 2020

The speed limit through motorway roadworks is increasing in England to 60mph in some areas. The move aims to ease driver frustration, despite unions previously saying the changes would put workers lives at risk.

Highways England says drivers can travel at 60mph "where it is safe for road users and roadworkers and where shown on road signs". Therefore, speed limits will not increase at every set of roadworks.

The move comes after trials and in response to feedback from road users who said they were frustrated at not being able to go quicker. The results also show more drivers stick to the higher speed limit, so less people will exceed a maximum speed of 60mph. 

The 10mph increase was suggested in 2017. At the time, Unite union said, "Sadly, in recent years there have been several deaths of motorway workers and these changes will make their work even more dangerous."

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Three new scenarios for the raised limit have been introduced: Permanent, which allows for 60mph driving at all times; Contraflow, which imposes a 60mph limit on stretches of road where main construction activity isn't taking place; and Dynamic, which lifts the limit from 50mph only on non-working days.

The new limit is expected to significantly affect areas where smart motorways are being constructed. In March, a report of new measures to improve safety on smart motorways was released, including scrapping the opening of the motorway's hard shoulders for traffic at busy times.

Some road projects, which trialled the 60mph during an eight or 10-week period over the last 18 months, were confident with how the increased speed limit was operating so rolled it out further within the roadworks or kept it on until the work completed.

AA president Edmund King welcomed the change, saying: "Sticking at 50mph often leads to other drivers tailgating in order to try to force vehicles to pull over."

Comments

WilliamRead    on 27 July 2020

The AA are always quoted in these circumstances; their huge membership justifies this. However, they are merely a big business owned by private equity companies whose customers are drivers. It would be good to see quotations from other interested parties, eg the Institute of Advanced Motorists (Roadsmart), and the Association of British Drivers.

Rory Shepherd    on 27 July 2020

I think it will be more comfortable as idiot lorry drivers ,unwilling to lift their boot from the floor , will not be able to overtake cars doing 60 .

MerlinFlyer    on 27 July 2020

It is about time common sense prevailed. The A14 roadworks between Cambridge and Huntingdon had a blanket 40mph limit, which was ludicrous as there was never any roadworkers close to live lanes. They have the 60 mph limit on the M6 between Stafford and Stoke and it seems to work well.

NEIL SCARLETT    on 27 July 2020

The AA are always quoted in these circumstances; their huge membership justifies this. However, they are merely a big business owned by private equity companies whose customers are drivers. It would be good to see quotations from other interested parties, eg the Institute of Advanced Motorists (Roadsmart), and the Association of British Drivers.
You are correct sir, the AA is simply a profit making company. The Iam is simply a charity full of self appointed experts and the general standard within its ranks is not as high as they like to think.

CanAmSteve    on 27 July 2020

Agreed - they claim to represent drivers, but AFAIK their positions on issues don't really allow for member input or a democratic approach. And no doubt they can fudge the results any way they want

Clive Mockford    on 28 July 2020

It's not idiot lorry drivers as you put it. They have time restrains, driving hours, deliveries to make. Your be the first to complain, if you go to the shops and they haven't got what you want.
Far more drivers and passenger's are hurt or killed, than any road workers. What about our health and safety? Or aren't we entitled to the luxury?

Arthur Gardiner    on 28 July 2020

Ah! Got it! Now when an artic is 12" away from my back bumper, his life depends on getting my carrots to Tescos. But actually to be fair, I've found that it's the foreign lorry drivers who are the worst. There's no accountability. I know of at least one driver (with a well known European firm) who, because his mirrors weren't set properly caused a terrible accident. The 'area authorities' decided, after deliberating for some time afterwards, not to prosecute the driver.

Ol King Kong    on 28 July 2020

The speed per se has never been the main safety concern from my perspective. Working behind cones is the big one when it comes to worker safety. I've known folks enter the coned off area to make a phone call, to ask if they can drive in the reverse direction behind the cones b/c they missed their exit, sleepyheads just plough through whilst taking a nap. Really scary especially when you have men up in a cherry picker!

I'd say an enforced 70 behind varioguard, reduced locally to, say. 40 at entry and exit points into the works area: Cones - blanket 40!

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