England raises construction-zone speed limit to 60 mph for safety

This is a change nearly every driver is sure to appreciate.

Craig Cole Former reviews editor
Craig brought 15 years of automotive journalism experience to the Cars team. A lifelong resident of Michigan, he's as happy with a wrench or welding gun in hand as he is in front of the camera or behind a keyboard. When not hosting videos or cranking out features and reviews, he's probably out in the garage working on one of his project cars. He's fully restored a 1936 Ford V8 sedan and then turned to resurrecting another flathead-powered relic, a '51 Ford Crestliner. Craig has been a proud member of the Automotive Press Association (APA) and the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA).
Craig Cole
2 min read
Bentley UK road trip

The increased speed limit has not been shown to decrease safety.

Mark Fagelson/Bentley

You can really put the pedal to the metal in England. Motorists will now be permitted to drive 60 mph through construction zones -- or "roadworks" in the Queen's English. That's an increase of 10 mph.

According to Highways England, the government-owned firm that maintains and operates roadways in Britain, this bump applies to thoroughfares "where it is safe for road users and roadworkers, and where shown on road signs."

"Road users understand that roadworks are necessary, but they are frustrated by them," said Jim O'Sullivan, Highways England chief executive in an official statement. "So, testing 60 mph has been about challenging the norm while ensuring the safety of our people working out there and those using our roads."

The increased limit was tested for an eight- or 10-week period on a range of road projects over the last year and a half. It was found to work well and thus is being rolled out elsewhere in England.

Bentley UK road trip

You don't have to drive a Bentley to benefit from England's increased construction-zone speed limit.

Mark Fagelson/Bentley

This change should be music to drivers' ears. During trials, in eight construction zones the switch to 60 mph saved motorists a total of nearly 3,780 hours each day. Curiously, more drivers also stayed within the limit than when it was pegged at 50 mph. With more people traveling the same speed, safety should improve. As the old saying goes, speed kills. Except, apparently, when it doesn't.

This speed-limit increase will likely save even more time as the UK invests billions of pounds to repair and upgrade its transport network.

O'Sullivan said, "All of our research shows that road users benefit from 60-mph limits in roadworks. They have shorter journey times and feel safe." Other than Autobahn-inspired unrestricted sections of highway, what more could you ask for?

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