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Motorway Speed Limit Could Increase To 80mph


Thanks to the rise in popularity of eco-friendly and electric cars, the Government is considering increasing the maximum national speed limit to 80mph.

Transport secretary, Grant Shapps, has said that he's been 'thinking about' the issue of speed limits and says that the increased use of electric cars means that the emissions it would create would be offset. 

He also said that he is considering reducing the speed limit around schools. 

Speaking at the Conservative party conference in Manchester, 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, reviewing the last submission to ministers on the subject, it was thought the carbon emission addition would be too great.

 "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." 

He has also said that owning an electric car has made him reconsider the effect that it would have on the environment. 

Although, some question the safety of increasing motorway speed limits. 

RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said any increase in motorway speed limits was not a case of balancing emissions but '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,' he said in an interview with Mail Online

'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.' 

The previous suggested rise to the speed limit was made in 2011 by then transport secretary Philip Hammond. The plans were abandoned after the independent committee on climate change warned that the increase from 70mph to 80mph could generate an extra 2.2 million tons of CO2 annually, undermining emissions targets.


One of the main arguments against a rise in the motorway speed limit is if motorists are consistently traveling at speeds of 80mph, it will limit the battery capacity and add more strain on the charging infrastructure. 

Travelling at higher speeds rapidly reduces the battery power in an electric car which would increase the number of motorists using motorway charging stations. 

The government has already said that it will be investing £400 million into the UK’s charging infrastructure, this includes doubling the number of rapid chargers to 5,000 over the next 5 years. 

Between 1934 and 1967, the only speed limits on British roads were a restriction of 30mph in built up areas. 

Outside towns and villages, cars were only limited by the power of their engines and the ability of the driver. 

What do you think? Should the maximum speed limit for the motorway be 80mph?

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4th of October 2019

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