We all probably agree that motorway roadworks can be best described as an annoyance at times. A planned 3 or 4 hour trip can become 6 hours or more through bottle necked traffic and reduced speeds on Motorways for roadworks. Worse still, is when it’s absolutely clear on the roads, not another car in sight on a Sunday evening, and you’re still required to drive at 50mph during a construction area on the motorway which no one is even working on. Roadworks are an essential part to getting improved roads and ultimately resulting in better journey times, but it’s not really surprising that these can be thought of as a major inconvenience for many. However, this could all be set to change…or at least improve.
Highways England have recognised driver’s frustrations, but with roadworks being essential it leaves them a bit in limbo. However, they have stated that they are “committed to improving the experience of our customers while ensuring that safety is never compromised”. Therefore, they are testing a potential higher speed limit for roadworks where on the M1, A1 and M5 the limit is increased to 60mph (in the trials only). In their report summarising the findings from the 60mph trial, they found an improvement in customer satisfaction, it is safe to drive at 60mph during the roadworks without any risk to any population as long as there was no significant construction activity taking place in the closed lanes.
So, what does this mean for us? Well, if the plans go ahead – which we hope they will seeing as the trials were successful – we should see a 10mph speed limit increase in roadwork areas where there is less activity, meaning that we’ll only be going 10mph slower than the usual legal limit!
The new potential rise in the speed limit stems from a number of problems, one being that there were almost 300 incidents every week or drivers entering construction areas and imperilling road workers with physical and verbal abuse on motorways and A roads. A study by Highways England that was released last October found that by increasing the speed limit to 60mph in roadworks zone reduced 60% of drivers’ heart rate, suggesting perhaps a reduction in frustration levels?
It’s too early to know if the trials will be fully rolled out, and even if they are, will they actually make much difference. But Highways England have at least acknowledged a frustration and are attempting to find a safe and workable solution.