Motorway roadworks speed limit could be raised on Sundays - Highways England

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption, The speed limit through roadworks on motorways is normally 50mph (80km/h)

Drivers could be allowed to travel faster through motorway roadworks on quiet days such as Sundays.

Speed limits could be increased from 50mph (80km/h) to 60mph (97km/h) when there is less activity by road workers, Highways England announced.

Highways England will test the plan which is aimed at reducing drivers' frustration at roadworks.

The RAC welcomed a trial but said continued use of average speed cameras was also "essential".

The safety of road workers is "paramount" said RAC spokesman Simon Williams. But "the use of average speed cameras have been very successful in controlling speed".

"Increasing the limit will do away with some of the frustration for drivers."

'Roadworks necessary'

Highways England said various speed limits could also be used within one set of roadworks, meaning higher speeds are allowed when vehicles are further away from road workers.

The agency said there were nearly 300 incidents a week of drivers entering coned-off areas or subjecting road workers to physical or verbal abuse on motorways or major A roads.

Steph Savill, a motoring campaigner on behalf of women drivers, welcomed the announcement, saying she found roadwork restrictions "frustrating and stressful" and were difficult to justify "when there are no workers on duty or other safety concerns".

She said: "From personal experience, it's nearly impossible to keep to 50mph on a motorway in these circumstances so a small increase to 60mph will likely reduce driver stress and gets our vote."

Should the proposals be brought in, they would come into effect in late 2018 or early 2019, Highways England chief executive Jim O'Sullivan said.

He added: "People understand roadworks are necessary but are also frustrated by them.

"At the same time we have to ensure as they drive through them that they, and our road workers, are safe.

"So we are always thinking of new ways to improve journeys at the same time as keeping everyone as safe as we can.

"That is why over the next 12 months we will test changes to the design and operation of roadworks."

A study by Highways England released in October 2017 found 60% of drivers who drove at 60mph through a roadworks zone had a decreased average heart rate indicating a reduction in frustration.

Motorways in Scotland and Wales are controlled by the countries' respective governments through devolved powers.

Transport Scotland and the Welsh Government both said they currently had no plans to copy the Highways England plan.

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