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The great British motorway speed limit debate

Tue, 07 Jan 2014 00:00:00 -0800

As the government plans a 60mph limit on a 32-mile section of the M1, Britain's speed limits are under the spotlight as never before.

The lower limit was announced this week as part of a project to improve air quality in Derbyshire and Yorkshire. If approved, drivers will not be able to exceed 60mph between junctions 28 and 35a between 7am and 7pm.

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What should the speed limit be on Britain's motorways?

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50mph 2 % 50mph
140 votes60mph 7 % 60mph
470 votes70mph 22 % 70mph
1,469 votes80mph 53 % 80mph
3,430 votes90mph+ 16 % 90mph+
1,023 votesSkip to resultsBack to voting

Total Responses: 6,532
Not scientifically valid. Results are updated every minute.

More on this storyGovernment considers 60mph M1 limitWhy the UK's unofficial limit's already 80mphOn Facebook: debate our M-way limitsNext

The proposed reduction is in stark contrast to earlier government plans – in 2011 it suggested the limit would be raised to 80mph. The then transport secretary Philip Hammond claimed raising the speed limit would deliver "hundreds of millions" of pounds in economic benefits.

The dithering shows how contentious speed limits can be. The green lobby is keen to make traffic slower to cut pollution, noise and accidents.

But businesses and economists favour increasing motoway limits to 80mph to boost trade and bring Britain in line with neighbouring countries such as France, where the autoroute limit in dry weather is 130km/h (81mph). Many of Germany's autobahns are totally derestricted.

Motorists' organisations reacted angrily to the proposed 60mph limit on the M1. The AA's president, Edmund King, told the Telegraph: "Our concern is how far this will spread, and whether the government is effectively reducing speed limits by the back door. Having to go to 60mph will be incredibly hard to enforce and a lot of drivers will think it is unjust.

“It is not just the emissions from cars that are causing the problems, it is the emissions from trucks, but it is the cars which will now have to slow down. Motorists are being penalised.”

What do you think the limit should be on Britain's motorways? Have your say in the MSN poll above.

On Bing: see photos of Britain's motorway network
60mph limit due for sections of the M1
'80mph is already the unofficial limit in Britain, so why change the status quo?'


By Tim Pollard, managing editor, MSN Cars