Thursday, 15 May 2014

Get used to driving at 40mph on the motorway . . .


'Get used to driving at 40mph on the motorway': Roads boss warns drivers their morning commute is only going to get 'slower and slower'

Cited at:

  • Chief executive of Highways Agency says motorway are becoming slower
  • Graham Dalton says some major roads now have a target of being 40 mph 
  • Adds that slowing motorway speeds are 'not acceptable' 
  • Britain is ranked 24th in the world for its roads behind France 
Drivers must get used to travelling at just 40mph on motorways, the official in charge of Britain’s roads has warned.

Graham Dalton, chief executive of the Highways Agency, admitted speeds were still not fast enough during rush hour – and said there was a danger traffic would get ‘slower and slower’.

On some congested routes there is an unofficial target of only 40mph, he said – a far cry from the 70mph speed limit.

Graham Dalton, the chief executive of the Highways Agency, said roads are getting 'slower and slower'

Labour said cuts to infrastructure spending four years ago meant officials were now unable to invest in new roads and instead had to tackle congestion.

Mr Dalton said that while the Highways Agency was ‘seen as being reasonably successful’ in policy terms, average motorway speeds were still not fast enough.

‘If you’re driving down the M6 to come to work in Birmingham every morning, we’ve got to the point where 50mph or 40mph is acceptable, and the target is to make it 40mph every weekday morning,’ he told Civil Service World magazine.

Variable speed limits on the M42 and M25 – enforced by overhead gantry cameras – are already set at between 40mph and 60mph during rush hour.

There are also plans to cut the speed limit on the M1 between Leeds and Sheffield because of fears over pollution caused by the queuing traffic. Mr Dalton, who has been the agency’s chief executive for six years, said it was hitting its targets by minimising jams, but he conceded that overall motorway speeds were getting worse.

A huge amount of economic activity relies on motorway speeds being fast enough, he said, adding: ‘Getting more predictable, but slower and slower, is not acceptable.’

Shadow Environment Secretary Mary Creagh says people will be shocked to hear that 40 mph is the best drivers can hope for on some motorways

The Highways Agency is in charge of maintaining 4,300 miles of England’s motorways and A roads. Mr Dalton blamed Treasury spending rules for a £20million loss from his budget due after wet weather repairs in January and February.

‘In a normal commercial business, I can re-plan that work to have it done in March, April, May, June, July – whenever,’ he said.

‘But because I’m part of the civil service, I couldn’t re-plan the work and had to give the money back to the Treasury. At the end of the year, I’ve lost the budget – and that means that because the work still needs to be done, something else won’t get done.’

Mary Creagh, Labour’s transport spokesman, said: ‘People will be shocked to hear that 40mph is the best drivers can hope for and shocked by ministers’ complacency.

‘We need a national plan for our road and rail networks so they can support the jobs and growth our country needs.

‘This startling admission is an indictment of this Government’s decision to slash spending on our motorways and cancel many road projects that would have tackled congestion and increased speed and reliability on our motorways.’

Edmund King, president of the AA, said: ‘There is a certain irony that all major political parties seem content to invest tens of billions of pounds to speed up train journeys from London to Birmingham by 32 minutes at speeds of up to 250mph, whilst a fraction of that is spent on motorways to speed up drivers to just 40mph.’ 

He added: ‘With less than £8billion each year spent on road infrastructure, it’s not hard to spot the root cause of a 40mph go-slow for UK driving commuters and families.

‘Decent, congestion-free roads are essential for economic recovery but that recovery relies on concerted investment to keep traffic flowing at acceptable speeds.’

A Highways Agency spokesman said: ‘There is no target for managing average motorway traffic flows at speeds below 70mph. The Highways Agency has been successful in making journeys more reliable and predictable – now we need to make them quicker as well.’

About Driver CPC                                                                

No comments:

Post a Comment

easy CPC

easyCPC offer CPC training courses for drivers across the UK and Ireland.