What do you consider to be a normal and safe speed on the motorway? Let’s face it, many of us don’t stick to 70mph – so why are we stuck with a limit that’s out-of-touch with reality?
Have you ever tried to drive along a busy motorway at the legal limit? If you have, you’ve no doubt felt intimidated by the hordes of other drivers thrashing past. All within a few inches of your car’s bodywork, over- and undertaking – in an effort to complete their journey without being held up.
Time to update our speed limits
A quick straw poll of drivers in our office demonstrated that 80mph is considered the ‘normal’, safe speed on the motorway. Ok, it’s hardly the robust research Which? is renowned for, but it does show that the legal limit of 70mph is archaic to many.
After all, this limit was introduced more than 40 years ago when most vehicles would hardly have been able to exceed it anyway. Modern cars are more than capable of cruising quietly and safely at 80-90mph and above. And most smaller-engined motors can exceed 120mph, while larger ones often have their limit capped at 155mph.
So why – when the road and weather conditions are right – shouldn’t we be allowed to make use of this performance? I’m not advocating that we all drive at 150mph all the time, but surely 80-90mph is perfectly acceptable on uncrowded motorways in good weather.
Europe is leading the way
Having driven fairly frequently in mainland Europe over the past few years, I wonder why we don’t adopt a more sensible approach, such as that taken by Germany.
There, the limit ranges from none to below 80kmh depending on the prevalent weather and traffic conditions – and when a limit is in place it’s rigorously enforced. This means you’re free to put your foot down on open stretches, but must keep to a sensible pace when it’s necessary for safety.
This seems the sensible solution to me. Well-considered speed limits – higher and lower than 70mph – would produce a big improvement in road safety. If you’ve ever been driving in torrential rain and been overtaken by some manic doing 100mph who can’t possibly see where they’re going, I’m pretty sure you’ll agree.
It brings to mind a very sound comment once made to me by an advanced driving instructor: ‘It’s not speed that kills, it’s inappropriate speed.’
Do you think we should change the 70mph motorway limit?
There should be varied limits according to conditions (41%, 331 Votes)
Yes, it should be higher (39%, 319 Votes)
No, it's right as it is (20%, 164 Votes)
Total Voters: 814