Speed limits in motorway roadworks could increase from 50 to 60mph following a government trial.

The 50mph limit has become a regular sight for Britain’s drivers amid the smart motorway expansion, with one of the longest stretches being the 34 miles on the M4 between London and Reading, where work won’t finish until 2022.

However, Highways England has carried out a 12-month trial that has looked at the viability of raising limits where it is safe to do so.

The RAC says the move could lead to the end of some 50mph limits, while other roads could have limits lowered when road workers are present. The M4 has used a 60mph limit at certain times such as weekends when no work is being carried out.

The breakdown service says a small trial in 2018 found there was no difference in safety between 50 and 60mph, but the faster limits improved traffic flow. It reports that motorists have been left increasingly frustrated by the 50mph restrictions in recent months as traffic density has dropped.

A Highways England spokesman said: “We understand people get frustrated with roadworks.

“That is why we have been carrying out these further trials to look at where we can increase the speed limit to 60mph in different types of roadworks and in different ways – such as 24/7, or when there is less activity on site, or on the side of the road furthest from road workers.”

Nicholas Lyes, head of roads policy at the RAC, who sits on the Government’s Motorists Forum sub-group on roadworks, said: “Drivers can only hope that all the years of works and reduced speed limits are worth it in terms of increased capacity. Worryingly though, drivers tell us they have serious concerns about how safe these motorways are.”


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