Highways England is to trial a raised speed limit of 60mph through motorway roadworks during quieter times, and if it is successful, the move may become permanent.
This would see the speed limit raised during less busy off-peak times, such as Sundays, while still keeping the current 50mph limit when the roads are busier.
The move is aimed at reducing the frustration motorists feel from driving for miles on end at 50mph through ‘empty’ roadworks on deserted motorways and A-roads. Studies have shown this causes raised stress levels – which are significantly reduced simply by raising the speed limit by 10mph.
Highways England chief executive Jim O’Sullivan said: “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.”
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Highways England will also assess whether it is safe to raise the speed limit when roadworks are situated further away from the main motorway carriageway – which could result in different speed limits for either side of the motorway, depending on where workers are located.
The organisation does add that it doesn’t intend to compromise safety: figures show that there are 300 incidents of drivers entering coned-off areas, or subjecting road workers to verbal or even physical abuse, every week in the UK.