Drivers are being forced to slow down on motorways and A-roads in England, as the speed limit has been reduced from 70 to 60 miles per hour along extensive stretches of major roads, according to new analysis from Churchill Motor Insurance.
The proportion of major roads with a 70mph limit has declined from 83 per cent in 2020 to 78 per cent in 2023 and drivers cannot rely on navigation apps displaying the latest limits which may not be updated.
Later this year in Wales, a blanket 20mph limit will replace the usual 30mph in most built up areas, the first part of the UK to introduce the scheme, and it has already imposed 50mph limits on some sections of M4 and major main roads.
Proportion of major roads by speed limit
|Speed limit in miles per hour||2020||2023||
The research reveals 15 per cent of the roads managed by National Highways now have a 60mph speed limit.
This has increased from nine per cent in 2020. The reduction in speed limits means there are 1,694 miles of major roads with a 60mph limit.
This is a 905-mile increase from 2020, when there were only 925 miles of major roads with a 60mph limit. The longest single stretches of 60mph speed limits are along the A1, M11, A52 and M20.
Most of the 60mph sections of major roads are on A-roads. However, National Highways has introduced more 60mph speed limits along sections motorways to reduce emissions and improve air quality. Motorways impacted include sections of the M1, M6, M602, M5 and M4.
There is an expectation of a reduction in nitrogen dioxide when traffic is reduced from 70 to 60mph on these roads. The organisation’s initial research suggests managing speed at 60mph cuts emissions by 17 per cent.
Nicholas Mantel, Head of Churchill motor insurance, said, “Our research shows 60mph speed limits are becoming more common on motorways, so it is important drivers check the signage on each stretch of road or they could risk unexpected fines.
“Many drivers will be surprised to learn that major A-roads across the UK have speed limits as low as 30mph, with controls in place for local safety reasons such as near schools.
“With variable speed limits, changes in permanent limits and temporary road control drivers can’t always rely on phone apps and in-car navigation to identify the speed for the road.”
Source: Churchill Motor insurance