Variable Motorway Speed Limits to be Reviewed by Highways England

According to police data, over 70,000 drivers were issued with speeding tickets last year whilst driving on motorways with variable speed limits. Due to this sharp rise in 2017, Highways England has now announced an investigation into variable speed limits.

The rise in issued speeding tickets in 2017 was actually tenfold when compared with 2016 and 2013 which came in at 45,919 and 7,064 respectively. The information, that was released after the police received multiple Freedom of Information requests, also revealed that 67 per cent of 2017’s tickets were issued to drivers that were driving under 69mph or less. 

When talking about variable speed limits on Britain’s motorways, Highways England confirmed that reduced speed limits are actually based on historical road usage and, on many occasions, not current road congestion. This means that road users are sometimes forced to adhere to lowered speed limits of 40, 50 or 60mph even though the road may be clear of traffic.

Speaking of this issue, Highways England’s Chief Executive, Jim O’Sullivan, said: 

“We have to set the speed limit before the congestion appears … If you don’t set the limit before there is no point having the speed limits.”

Earlier this year, Highways England managed to reduce the amount of time that variable speed limits were in force across the UK by 200 hours and created revised guidelines for speed limit operators. Despite this, Highways England say that they will still be going ahead with a full review of variable motorway speed limits.

In the same report, Highways England also revealed that many speed cameras on smart motorways that feature variable speed limits are always active – even when the variable speed limit is not in force. The most profitable stretch of road in the UK (between Tibshelf services and Junction 29A on the M1) caught over 8,000 drivers speeding in 2017 whilst no variable speed limit was enforced.

How do you feel about variable speed limits on motorways? We’d like to know your opinion on Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin.

Below image from the Highways Agency (image license here)


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