July 29, 2013

Motorway speed limits are in the news again. A remanufacturing firm called BBA Reman, who presumably make things that have already been made (?), is urging HMG to re-reconsider its motorway speed limit plans.

Back in September 2011, then transp sec Phil ‘Top Gear’ Hammond said he was going to free the arteries of commerce and get Britain working again by lifting the motorway speed limit to 80mph.

Then insurers politely told him that he wasn’t – and election strategists advised that there probably weren’t that many votes in it anyway. This resulted in an announcement last month that trials planned for next year would not now be going ahead.

Now BBA Remains and others are calling on the Coalition to go ahead with the trials so that Britain can indeed – as Hammond promised “join the fast lane of global economies” and “generate economic benefits of hundreds of millions of pounds through shorter journey times”.

The thing is though: nobody drives at 70mph anyway. Try driving at 71mph yourself on a free-flowing motorway and see how many cars you overtake.

This was confirmed in a survey carried out by or for the aforementioned BBA which found that 66% of Britons regularly exceed the current 70mph limit (by an average of 10mph) and more than half of us want the speed limit increased to 80mph.

That 66% is surely a gross underestimate, in any case, based on the non-availability of a tick-box in the BBA survey labelled ‘I might… but I’d rather not admit to breaking the law, thank you’.

As Bankstone News noted at the time of Hammo’s original announcement, however, if Britain truly is to turbocharge its economic revival, people need – not simply to drive at 80mph, which they already do – but to drive at 90mph, which some may not wish to do.

The stark reality is that – in the absence of strict enforcement of the in-force limits – most Brits will continue to drive – not at the prescribed speed limit – but at whatever speed feels safe to them.

Bankstone News, for one, can barely stay awake at 70mph.

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