10/05/2005

The AA clarifies position on motorway speed limits

The AA Motoring Trust has clarified reports that it has backed calls for an 80 mph limit on motorways.

The motoring organisation has confirmed that a suggested pilot scheme for a limit of 80mph related only to certain controlled motorway sections, such as those that are in place on the M25 near Heathrow.

A recent policy paper, 'The Motorway Speed Limit - 70mph, 75mph or 80mph', is one of a series of papers that has been produced to refine policy positions and "stimulate discussion" on the issue.

In a statement, the AA Trust said that the paper agues there are "currently two speed limits: the legal 70mph limit; and the unofficial and generally tolerated 80mph limit, below which drivers are unlikely to be prosecuted".

The organisation warned that a blanket increase in the motorway speed limit to 80mph would, in the absence of strict enforcement, lead to "unacceptable enforcement "drift" to 90 mph" - increasing the risk of accidents and raise the total of fatal and serious injuries.

Under the suggested pilot scheme, the 80mph limit would operate only when traffic conditions were suitable, just as the limit can currently be reduced from 70mph to suit traffic conditions.

While advocating more variable speed limits up to 80mph, the Trust said it believes drivers would need to be "made much more aware of the risks of speed" due to road conditions, traffic density and visibility.

"All these factors would be taken into account to ensure that, on controlled motorways, drivers would know: the speed displayed is right for the conditions; it is safer for them; enforcement will be strict, with minimal tolerance above the set limit," the Trust said.

However, motoring safety groups have opposed the proposals to raise motorway speed limits, saying that they are "irresponsible" and motorways would only become more dangerous.

(SP/GB)

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