80 is Right and Overdue
The Government has announced its intention to increase the motorway speed limit from the existing 70mph to 80mph but not until 2013. In my view this is long overdue. The current limit was set in 1965 when cars were far less capable and braking systems were nowhere near as efficient as they are today. The current limit is widely ignored and motoring experience suggests that the police will not trouble anyone on a motorway travelling at under 80mph now.
This increase in the motorway limit is rightly coupled with a growing trend to 20mph limits in residential streets. This was something which I sought to encourage when I was Transport Lead Councillor in Reading. I left ambitious plans for 20mph in all residential streets which are off existing 20mph roads, where the residents wanted it. We were also planning to make many residential side roads in east Reading 20mph, something which the residents had campaigned for over several years. For some reason (other than in east Reading) Labour seems to be less enthusiastic in pursuing this.
The increase in the legal motorway speed limit will be welcomed by most road users, although I note that the Guardian already has some articles and letters in opposition. In other European countries higher limits are not uncommon. Most of Germany’s motorway network has no upper speed limit; France already has an 80mph limit (except in poor weather); Italy has an 80mph limit (with some exceptions); while many other countries such as Spain, have 75mph (120kmh) limits.
The government believes that increasing the national speed limit to 80mph would have “significant economic benefits”. Those that do not agree with the increase can always travel at a lower speed, as long as they stick to the inside lane and don’t hog the middle lane, as too many do now. It would also be sensible for the Government to consider introducing a minimum speed for when the road is clear.