Currently reading: Highways England raises speed limit through roadworks to 60mph
New limit will be introduced where appropriate to ease frustration and improve safety

Highways England has raised the national speed limit through motorway roadworks from 50mph to 60mph in an effort to cut journey times and improve safety.

Drivers will now be able to travel at the higher speed “where it is safe for road users and roadworkers and where shown on road signs”. The move comes in response to feedback from road users citing frustration at not being able to go quicker through roadworks and research that found fewer people exceed the higher limit.

During trials for the raised limit, Highways England found that allowing cars to travel at 60mph through eight different roadwork zones saved drivers an average of 3780 hours journey time per day. 

Workforces at several sites, including stretches of the M1, M6 and M4, were satisfied with the results of the 8-10 week trials and chose to retain the 60mph limit following their completion. 

Three new scenarios for the raised limit have been introduced: 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.

The news comes following the government’s recent vow to ‘accelerate’ investment in the UK’s transport infrastructure, pledging £1.7 billion to repairing local roads and fast-tracking £175 million of work on major road and rail networks. 

It's expected that the new limit will have most effect in areas where work is ongoing to introduce smart motorways. A recent review of the controversial scheme has resulted in a series of new measures to improve safety, including the abolition of the dynamic hard shoulder concept and increasing the number of Highways England traffic officer patrols.

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.

“We have a huge programme of work planned, so being able to use 60mph where safe will continue to improve everybody’s experience of our roads.”

Read more

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Government vows to ‘accelerate’ investment in UK road network​

How Autocar writers would fix Britain's roads and transport​

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Felix Page

Felix Page
Title: News and features editor

Felix is Autocar's news editor, responsible for leading the brand's agenda-shaping coverage across all facets of the global automotive industry - both in print and online.

He has interviewed the most powerful and widely respected people in motoring, covered the reveals and launches of today's most important cars, and broken some of the biggest automotive stories of the last few years. 

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scotty5 27 July 2020

The whole system needs updating.

What hit me reading this article is Dynamic mode where the speed limit is lifted on non-working days.

There's a really easy fix to all of this, there's no such thing as a non-working day.

First of all the 50mph limit was hardly ever adhered to and if it was, we'll in my experience I've seen more road rage in these areas than anywhere else. And secondly, how many times do we see road works with nobody working?

We really have to rethink roadworks because again, in my experience, the UK is unique that you can pass miles of roadworks without seeing a single person, and if you do, they're ususlaly one peron in a digger with four people standing watching him whilst the others are in their vans reading newpapers. Perhaps it' just my bad timing but I never see this in other countries I travel thru.

CWBROWN 27 July 2020

Rogue speed limits

The biggest danger I see is when they leave speed limit signs out when work has finished, or no work has taken place in months. There was a 50 mph one on the A11 for a year to replace armco on an exit for 13 months (when the repair took place on month 7).

The locals (knowing it wasnt enforced and was irrelevant) nailed past it at 70-80mph, others slammed on the brakes and came down to 50mph.


Highways England need a better system of knowing what speed limits are being displayed, and whether there is still a need for that particular limit.

Just Saying 27 July 2020

CW Brown.

Great points, well made.
You are right! So often there are speed limit signs which you feel you're the only one obeying,
M27 Hampshire, case in point.
It's utter madness not to remove signs which by all accounts have been simply left behind. Locals doing 70, passers-by motoristst slowing... Also speed restrictions signs being placed out before work / obstructions commence.
Highways England should be more mindful. Oddly, increasing the limit to 60 through roadworks/obstructions might be the safest action to take!