Highways England has raised the roadworks speed limit from 50mph to 60mph where appropriate in an effort to shorten journey times and improve safety.

The Government agency carried out “extensive and innovative research” following feedback from road users who expressed frustration at the existing 50mph limit. The research involved trialling 60mph speed limits on eight schemes, which resulted in drivers saving almost 3780 hours journey time each day across all sites. And although average speeds increased, Highways England says more drivers stayed within the speed limit than when compared to driving at 50mph.

Workforces at several sites, including stretches of the M1, M6 and M4, were satisfied with the results of trials held over eight to 10 weeks, and chose to retain the 60mph limit following their completion. There will be three new scenarios for the new raised limit, including Permanent, which allows for 60mph driving at all times; Contraflow, which imposes a 60mph limit on stretches of road where main construction activity isn’t taking place; and Dynamic, which lifts the limit from 50mph only on non-working days.

Jim O’Sullivan, chief executive of Highways England, said: “All of our research shows that road users benefit from 60mph limits in roadworks. They have shorter journey times and feel safe.

“Road users understand that roadworks are necessary, but they’re frustrated by them. So testing 60mph has been about challenging the norm while ensuring the safety of our people working out there and those using our roads.”

AA president Edmund King said that being able to reach 60mph in roadworks is often safer than driving at 50mph. “Sticking at 50mph often leads to other drivers tailgating in order to try to force vehicles to pull over,” he explained.

“The speed limit for HGVs over 7.5 tons travelling on dual carriageways or motorways is also 60mph. So sometimes this leads to tailgating in 50mph limits.”

Limits will not necessarily be increased at every set of roadworks. Depending on the road layout and the work being done, 40mph and 50mph restrictions will continue to be used where deemed appropriate.

For drivers of classics, the chance to avoid being tailgated by trucks and other motorists would certainly seem welcome. But does it make life on the motorway even more difficult for slower vehicles? Let us know your thoughts via ccb.ed@kelsey.co.uk.