September 29, 2011 / 6:02 PM / 9 years ago

Government plans to raise motorways' speed limit

A red kite flys over the M40 motorway near Lewknor, southern England, February 25, 2008. REUTERS/ Eddie Keogh

LONDON (Reuters) - The government said on Thursday it was looking to raise the speed limit on the country’s motorways to 80 mph and that it intended to bring in the measure in 2013 if it got the backing of the public and campaigners.

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said they would launch a consultation later this year on whether to raise the limit from the current 70 mph level.

“Now it is time to put Britain back in the fast lane of global economies and look again at the motorway speed limit which is nearly 50 years old, and out of date thanks to huge advances in safety and motoring technology,” Hammond said.

“Increasing the motorway speed limit to 80 mph would generate economic benefits of hundreds of millions of pounds through shorter journey times. So we will consult later this year on raising the limit to get Britain moving.”

An aide to Hammond said the changes to vehicles since the 70 mph limit was introduced in 1965 meant they were much safer, with a 75 percent reduction in the number of road deaths, and so the limit should be reconsidered.

Initial work by the Department of Transport indicated that raising the limit to 80 mph provided the best balance between cost and benefits, and would bring it into line with many other EU countries.

About half of all drivers are believed to currently flout the 70 mph limit, so the change would restore its credibility, the aide said.

Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Stefano Ambrogi

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