July 28, 2020

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Road safety

Does motorway roadworks speed limit increase put roadworkers at added risk?

Speed limits through most major roadworks in England will be increased to 60mph, Highways England has announced.

RoadworksHighways England says the move to increase the speed limit from 50mph has been taken in order to ‘increase traffic flow’ and ‘ease driver frustrations’.

It follows a trial, which looked at different ‘scenarios’ within roadworks on England’s strategic road network of motorways and major A roads.

The move has been welcomed by many, despite many unions previously stating that any increase would put the lives of road workers at risk.

In 2019, SHP reported that more than half of road users have admitted driving in ways that put themselves or roadworkers at risk, with 74% admitting to exceeding speed limits.

This followed video footage, released by Highways England, which highlighted the danger reckless motorists can cause to road workers.

The increase will only apply to certain sets of roadworks, depending on the road layout and the type of work being carried out.

The AA has said that the increase will reduce journey times and help reduce tailgating by motorists.

Safer Highways CEO, Kevin Robinson, has welcomed the increase, but urges caution, saying it must be followed with greater enforcement on law breakers.

Speaking about the announcement, Highways England Chief Executive Jim O’Sullivan said: “All of our research shows that road users benefit from 60mph limits in roadworks. They have shorter journey times and feel safe.

“Road users understand that roadworks are necessary, but they are frustrated by them. So, testing 60mph has been about challenging the norm while ensuring the safety of our people working out there and those using our roads.”

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Charles Smith
Charles Smith
3 years ago

The workers would actually have to be present at the roadside to encounter any increased risk from a change from 50 to 60 mph speed limit. Often such works are not occupied by workforce yet the general public bear the costs of delays. With some more forethought schemes could be devised that impose limits only when the workforce is present.

Martin Taylor
Martin Taylor
3 years ago

It’s a pity this article doesn’t explore the risk based evidence for the change or detail the corresponding changes in safe working arrangements that will be required to accompany this revision. Don’t have a problem with the change but looks to me as though the majority of the publicity is based on traffic efficiency and user experience.
I expect the use of the hard shoulder as a running lane had similar improvements before the real safety consequences were fully understood

Phil Jackson
Phil Jackson
3 years ago

Dear AA – Not sure how it will help reduce tailgating – tailgaters will just do it at 60mph instead of 50. I think it’s a welcome change if properly managed i.e. with average speed cameras with enforcement. To be fair, the 50mph never bothered me – a bit of extra fuel efficiency is always welcome.