Where do you stand on speed? Do you think the current limits are too strict? Or do you believe they don’t go far enough? Whatever your stance, news of a new 60-mph motorway speed limit is sure to be a decisive issue, and a major talking point for motorists.

As of October 2020, Highways England has introduced a 60-mph cap on several sections of England’s motorway network to find out if the new limit can help cut pollution. But what might the new limit mean for speed limits going forward? And what benefits does it present to the average driver?

To find out, we’re taking an in-depth look at the new motorway speed limits – from where they’ve been introduced to what they could mean for drivers in the future.

Where is the New Motorway Speed Limit Being Introduced?

As of October 2020, four motorways have been affected by the new 60-mph limit, including:

  • M1 – junction 33 to 34
  • M5 junction 1 to 2
  • M6 – junction 6 to 7
  • M602 – junction 1 to 3

The limit is in place on a trial basis for five miles only. Highways England plans to keep the limits in place for 12 months, to find out if the 10-mph reduction has a notable impact on pollution and air quality – with a view to changing the national speed limit if it’s found to have a positive effect.

Why is the Speed Limit Being Reduced on Motorways?

As the government continues to work towards achieving its carbon-reduction targets, it’s exploring a range of measures to cut emissions on our roads – with a reduction to the national speed limit being one of them.

Research shows that several motorways have higher-than-recommended levels of nitrogen dioxide, causing poor air quality and harmful pollutants. It’s hoped that a reduction to the speed limit could curb pollution, especially on roads that pass through or near residential areas.

While a reduced national speed limit is bound to be met with derision from some drivers and motoring groups, it is a proven strategy. In 2019, the Dutch government introduced similar measures, capping highway limits at 62 mph. Since then, it’s seen a measurable drop in pollutants across its motorway network – prompting other countries to trial the measure.

Are There Any Benefits to Cutting Speed Limits?

Improved air quality isn’t the only plus point which could arise from a new 60-mph national speed limit. While a reduction doesn’t sound ideal, it could bring about a range of benefits, including:

  • Better fuel economy – driving at 60 instead of 70 could save drivers hundreds of litres of fuel each year, which is great news for anyone that commutes on the motorway.
  • Reduced wear and tear – a 10-mph reduction may not sound much, but it could help prevent premature wear to your car’s tyres and engine, so you’re less likely to breakdown and could save on yearly servicing costs.
  • Safer roads – while slower speeds aren’t always safer, it’s hoped cutting the national speed limit could help improve road safety on motorways.
  • Reduced noise pollution – if you live in an area close to a busy motorway, the new 60-mph limit could help you sleep better at night. That’s because 10 mph has a big effect on noise levels, helping to cut engine noise and tyre roar.

Whatever your thoughts on a reduction to the national speed limit, such benefits are hard to ignore. While some drivers will be unhappy with the 60-mph cap, it could benefit all road users in the long term.​

How Could the New Speed Limit Affect Restrictions in the Future?

While the new 60-mph motorway limit is in place on a trial basis – and may never be rolled out nationwide – it does raise questions about what the reduction could mean for speed limits in the future.

At the moment, the national speed limit of 70 mph applies on motorways and unrestricted dual carriageways. If their limit is reduced to 60 mph, it stands that other roads, like A roads, would be reduced by 10 mph too, right?

We can’t say for sure what the future holds for our speed limits, and there are arguments for and against a complete rethink of national restrictions. On one hand, environmental and road safety groups see it as a responsible step towards curbing emissions and reducing fatal accidents. On the other, drivers and motoring bodies argue that the current limits are restrictive enough, and that any further cuts threaten to undermine the convenience of car ownership.

What are your thoughts on the new motorway speed restrictions? Do think they’re pointless or would you like to see new limits in place nationwide? Let us know on the Brindley Garages Facebook page.

Whatever the future holds for our speed limits, there’s nothing like getting the keys to a car. Looking for more from Brindley Garages? Click here to check out more news from the motoring world, or if you’re in the market for a new car, see how we can help at our homepage.