Government to consider 80mph motorway speed limit

Transport secretary Grant Shapps is considering increasing the 70mph speed limit on the British motorway network

Transport secretary Grant Shapps is considering increasing the 70mph speed limit on the British motorway network

Transport secretary Grant Shapps is considering increasing the 70mph speed limit on the British motorway network 

A surge in electric cars on British roads could pave the way to an 80mph maximum speed limit, the transport secretary has said.

Grant Shapps said he was ‘thinking about’ the issue of speed limits, including also reducing them in some places, like outside schools, The Daily Telegraph reported.

He told a debate at the Conservative party conference: ‘On 80mph speed limits, I’ve been thinking about this issue and maybe even sought advice on the subject of late.

‘I think there is an argument for looking at our speed limits, both in terms of higher speed limits and actually lower limits – 20mph outside of schools.

‘When it was last looked at in 2011, reviewing the last submission to ministers on the subject, it was thought the carbon emission addition would be too great.’ 

Mr Shapps, who was made transport secretary in July, said being the owner of an electric car made him reconsider whether the emissions impact would ‘still be the case’.

Full speed ahead? Motorway limits could rise to 80mph, Grant Shapps has suggested

Full speed ahead? Motorway limits could rise to 80mph, Grant Shapps has suggested

Full speed ahead? Motorway limits could rise to 80mph, Grant Shapps has suggested

‘I think there is an argument that once you have increased the level of electrification and therefore decreased or entirely removed carbon, that you might look at those things again,’ he said.

At an earlier conference talk he hinted moves to ensure no new cars are petrol or diesel by 2040 could be brought forward by five years.

Between 1934 and 1967, the only speed limits on British roads were a restriction of 30mph in built up areas. Outside towns and villages, cars were only limited by the power of their engines and the ability of the driver. 

Shapps is considering the move because of the growth in the use of electric cars, like this Tesla Model 3

Shapps is considering the move because of the growth in the use of electric cars, like this Tesla Model 3

Shapps is considering the move because of the growth in the use of electric cars, like this Tesla Model 3

Britain’s 70mph speed limit  

In 1934 the government abolished speed limits outside of towns and built up areas. 

However, in the late 1950s and 1960s with the development of the motorway network, the top speed of cars was edging up. 

On the morning of June 11, 1964 Jack Sears drove his AC Cobra Coupe GT onto the M1 at Watford Gap services where he reached 180mph, testing out the car ahead of that  year’s Le Mans 24 Hours race. 

At the time there were no speed limits outside towns.  

The run caused outrage, although the following year, in response to a rising death toll on the motorway network, a temporary two-year speed limit of 70mph was imposed. 

Labour’s transport secretary Barbara Castle extended the 70mph limit indefinitely in 1967.  

Hundreds of motorists gathered at Newport Pagnell service station in 1967 to protest against the new limit. 

In December 1973 a temporary 50mph maximum speed limit was introduced as a result of the oil crisis, but was removed in March 1974 when supplies were improved. 

 

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