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PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 01:54 
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The Independent here
The Independent - Oliver Wright, Whitehall Editor wrote:
Move to raise motorway limit to 80mph 'will boost economy'
By Oliver Wright, Whitehall Editor - Monday, 28 February 2011

The Transport Secretary is considering changing the motorway speed limit that has been in place since 1965

Motorway speed limits could be raised to 80mph and those on city and town roads be reduced, with the decision on restrictions being made as much on cost as on safety. The Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond, said yesterday that decisive factors could include the economic benefits of faster travel as well as environmental concerns.
Britain's 70mph motorway speed limit has been in force since 1965 – when it represented the top speed of most cars on the roads at the time. In France and Italy the maximum speed is 81mph while in Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Belgium it is 75mph. Parts of the German autobahn network have no speed limit at all.

Mr Hammond said: "We need to do this on a pretty rigorous cost-benefit analysis basis...at the moment there are a clear set of criteria for making these decisions. Perhaps we ought to ask if we are using the right set of criteria." He suggested that in some towns speed limits could be reduced from 30mph to 20mph, on both environmental and safety grounds.

The Transport Secretary's comments came as a report from the RAC Foundation found that the number of traffic lights in the UK had risen by 30 per cent between 2000 and 2008, with the number in London increasing by 23 per cent to more than 6,000.

Produced by the former transport and planning chief Irving Yass, the report also revealed that the number of traffic signals equipped to give priority to buses went up from 3,801 at the beginning of 2007 to 8,425 at the end of 2008.
The number of junctions in London with a full pedestrian crossing stage – when all the lights for vehicles are at red – increased from 481 in 2000 to 783 in 2010. The report called for a review of such junctions and said the Department for Transport (DfT) should consider carrying out trials of flashing amber lights at times when there was little traffic, which would allow drivers to proceed with caution.
There should also be wider use of the "countdown" system which shows pedestrians exactly how long they have to cross the road, it said.
RAC director Professor Stephen Glaister said: "Lights have an important role to play but with ever more-congested streets they need to be very finely tuned to ensure they are not doing more harm than good."


Telegraph here
Telegraph Melissa Kite, Deputy Political Editor wrote:
Motorway speed limit could be raised to 80mph
By Melissa Kite, Deputy Political Editor 8:00AM GMT 27 Feb 2011

Speed limits on the motorway could be increased to 80mph in a bid to increase productivity, Philip Hammond, the transport secretary, has suggested.
Britain's maximum speed limit has been 70mph since 1965 Photo: PA

Mr Hammond said that safety might no longer be the sole consideration in judging how fast cars can go and that gains to the economy from shorter journey times should also be taken into account.
Britain's maximum speed limit has been 70mph since 1965 and is lower than most in continental Europe.

Mr Hammond, who drives a Jaguar XJ saloon said: "We need to do this on a pretty rigorous cost-benefit basis. At the moment there are a clear set of criteria for making these decisions. Perhaps we ought to ask if we are using the right set of criteria."
There were 132 deaths on British motorways in 2009, the last year for which full figures are available. In France and Italy the maximum speed limit is 81mph. In Ireland, Spain and Portugal it is 75mph.
Mr Hammond has also signalled he will address the issue of fuel prices in next month's Budget.


Daily Mail here
Daily Mail Reporter wrote:
MPs could push through 80mph motorway speed limit before summer break
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 8:41 AM on 14th March 2011

A planned increase in motorway speed limits to 80mph could be made law before MPs take their summer leave in July.

Britain has some of the safest roads in Europe, and within that motorways are by far the safest, but opponents of the plans say they will lead to an increase in casualties.
Ministers will debate whether an 80mph limit should only be applied during the day but while certain roads could remain exempt, the changes may be implemented within months.

Travelling at 80mph? A change in the motorway speed limit could be made law within months
The UK speed limit is lower than much of Continental Europe, and far below speeds on German Autobahns which are unrestricted.

The latest push for an 80mph limit comes nearly 50 years after the Government imposed an 'experimental' 70mph speed limit on Britain's first motorway - the M1 - following a spate of unofficial road racing and accidents on what was originally an unrestricted road.
The new speed limit could be applied to the M5 and M4 allowing quicker travel times for holidaying families but it is thought a 70mph limit will remain on London’s M25.
Mulling it over: Roads minister Mike Penning said there are economic and safety issues to deliberate before the limit can be raised (photo)

Roads minister Mike Penning told the Daily Mirror: ‘We need to look at the economic benefits of shorter journey times as well as considering implications for road safety.’
Supporters of raising the speed limit point out that when the 70mph limit was introduced in 1964, it was set at the flat-out speed of most cars which, compared to the advanced engineering of today, were pretty basic by comparison.
These days cars cruise easily at 80mph and have a host of in-built safety features including air-bags, anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control - not to mention seat-belts.

However, the Parliamentary Advisory Council on Transport Safety (PACTS) says raising the speed limit to 80 mph would increase motorway casualties by between 5 and 10 per cent.
There were 132 deaths on motorways in 2009 at a time when the total number of road deaths was 2,222 - the lowest since records began.
The maximum speed limit in France and Italy is 81 mph, in Ireland Spain and Portugal it is 75mph, and parts of the German Autobahn network are 'unrestricted' with no speed limit at all.
The fact that 85th % of drivers/ riders already do approx 80-85mph will mean that the enforcement threshold will be above the 85th%ile speed, and so enforcement will dramatically fall, and courses will dry up as Partnerships dissolve and even the courses will stop with lack of funds from fines!

ABD comment here.

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