Do you remember the last time you were heading down a motorway knowing you were making good time and weren’t going to be late? Until you hit the roadworks and have to drop your speed down to 50mph… Suddenly, everyone is driving on robot-mode and the frustration is palpable. And to make matters worse, there don’t seem to be any workers working on whatever it is that is being upgraded or changed on that stretch of road.
Following a recent trial undertaken by Highways England, it was announced that the speed limit could be increased to 60mph in certain circumstances – notably where there are no workers on the road and where visibility is not compromised. This change has not yet been confirmed and would apply to motorways in England, but it could come in before the end of the year.
The trial found that drivers were less stressed when driving at slightly higher speeds and concentrated more on the road rather than checking their speedometer to make sure that they were not exceeding that 50mph limit. It also took into consideration the safety aspect of larger trucks, which have a speed limiter set at 56mph making them more reluctant to slow down to 50mph; this then results in tail-gating, increasing the risk of collision should something go wrong. It also makes it harder for vehicles to overtake trucks in order to move away from that risk without breaking the speed limit. While the move is opposed by some, it has been welcomed by many motorists and motoring associations.
Enforcement will be key to ensuring that 60mph does not mean 65mph or even 70mph for some. This is increasingly being done by using average speed cameras which are being introduced at more and more locations and for longer stretches of road.
Tips for safe motorway driving
Regardless of the speed limit, it’s worth keeping in mind a few key tips for safe motorway driving at all times:
- Always maintain a safe distance from the car in front to allow for sudden braking or objects in the road that you may need to avoid suddenly. The easy trick to doing this is to maintain a 2 second distance from the car in front. You can measure this by counting the time between the car in front and you passing a fixed point on the road such as a lamp post or road sign.
- Stick to the speed limit
- Use your mirrors at all times, not just when you want to overtake, so that you know what is going on around you at all times
- Get up to speed before joining the motorway, by building it up on the slipway
- Overtake correctly – mirror, signal, manoeuvre – and only use the right-hand lane for overtaking
- Give yourself plenty of time to get in lane when you are ready to exit and don’t slow down until you have turned off or you risk causing an accident