British motorway speed limit rises to 80 mph

MOTORWAY speed limits are to go up from 70mph to 80mph, the Government confirmed yesterday.

The new maximum for cars and vans will come into force within two years, Transport Secretary Philip Hammond announced.

As he launched a consultation ahead of the change in 2013, he insisted experience abroad showed a "minimal" safety impact.

The 70mph limit dates from 1965 — before seatbelt laws and airbags.

Mr Hammond branded it "out of date" and said the new limit will give a huge boost to UK finances.

But Greenpeace scoffed: "The Saudi oil minister will be rubbing his hands with glee."

Mr Hammond said: "It is time to put Britain back in the fast lane of global economies."

He said quicker journey times will benefit the country by "hundreds of millions of pounds" — even though a similar change in Denmark saw overall speeds actually increase by less than 6mph.

Accidents barely rose — and Mr Hammond pointed to massive advances in brakes and safety features since our 70mph limit was imposed almost 50 years ago.

He said: "The economic benefits will outweigh the very, very small impact on casualty numbers."

The Irish and Spanish can already do 75mph. The French and Italians drive at 81mph. German autobahns have no limit.

Ellen Booth, of safety campaign Brake, said deaths are "likely to increase".

The AA said: "The best speed limits are ones drivers understand and respect."

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