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PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2004 12:20 
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Location: Safe Speed ... 05,00.html

M-way limit may rise to 80mph to smooth traffic flow

Kamal Ahmed, political editor
Sunday April 11, 2004
The Observer

Britain's motorway speed limit of 70mph will be replaced with an 80mph 'variable' limit under plans being considered by the Department for Transport.

Government officials have told The Observer the blanket 70mph limit does little to educate drivers that safe driving does not only depend on speed but on road conditions.

The Transport Department is looking at whether variable limits, already in place along parts of the M25 around London and M42 in the Midlands, could be used to introduce an 80mph limit if con ditions are dry and the motorway is relatively traffic-free.

'You could have a 50mph limit enforced if the weather is bad or the road is crowded and this would be balanced by an 80mph limit where conditions are good,' said a Whitehall source. 'The technology needed to do this will be available in five years.'

Ministers have been impressed by the use of variable speed limits to control traffic flow along busy sections of motorway. By slowing traffic down when driving conditions are poor there are fewer accidents and less chance of traffic jams building up. A higher limit in good conditions would then stop 'crimi nalising' drivers who are still driving at safe speeds.

The Government is also responding to a Conservative pledge to raise the motorway speed limit to 80mph, which is believed to be popular with the public.

Edmund King, executive director of the RAC Foundation, said he backed an 80mph limit as long as it is enforced and is 'not seen as a limit that means 90mph'.

The 70mph limit was introduced in 1967 when car design and road handling were much more primitive. Any change is likely to be attacked by environmentalists because fuel consumption rises rapidly between 70 and 80mph.

That's a really daft comment from Edmund King. I shall speak to him.

Paul Smith
Our scrap speed cameras petition got over 28,000 sigs
The Safe Speed campaign demands a return to intelligent road safety

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