New speed limit announced
Highways England announces investigation after tenfold increase in drivers being ticketed in areas with reduced limits (new speed limit). Variable motorway speed limits are to be comprehensively reviewed, after it was revealed ten times more drivers were issued with a speeding ticket in 2017 in areas with reduced limits. Police data, released following a series of Freedom of Information requests, revealed 72,348 drivers were issued with speeding tickets last year on motorways with variable speed limits, up from just 7,064 in 2013. 45,919 drivers were caught out in 2016.
In 2017, 67 per cent of tickets were issued to motorists travelling at 69mph or less, indicating the majority of penalties were issued to drivers travelling on sections of motorway with reduced limits.
Highways England, the Government-owned organisation tasked with running the country’s motorway network, admitted it used predictions based on “historical road usage” to set reduced speed limits. This means drivers are sometimes forced to travel on motorways at 40, 50 or 60mph for congestion that isn’t there.
Jim O’Sullivan, Highways England’s chief executive, admitted this lead to “dissatisfaction” among drivers. O’Sullivan told the Times, which carried out the investigation: “Nobody has a perfect product and there is some room for improvement on how those limits are set.
Back in February this year, Highways England made changes that cut the amount of time variable limits were in place by around 200 hours a week across the UK’s 250-mile network of smart motorways. O’Sullivan said training for speed limit operators had been updated. Highways England said it has started a “comprehensive review of how variable speed limits are set, including the amount of time they are visible to drivers”. The organisation added it had “improved the way we set message signs and signals on smart motorways”.