Speed limits could be increased but concern remains over road workers safety

Highways England are reviewing speed limits around roadworks
Highways England are reviewing speed limits around roadworks

Drivers could be allowed to travel at increased speed through motorway roadworks depending on what day of the week they are travelling, under new plans from Highways England.

Acting on feedback from road users, Highways England is working hard to reduce drivers’ frustration with roadworks.

Following earlier trials to increase the speed limit through roadworks from 50mph to 55mph or even 60mph, the company is going to test if varying speed limits could safely be operated within a set of roadworks without increasing the risks to either drivers or road workers.

For example the speed could be increased to 60mph on a Sunday if there is less activity taking place, and then brought back down to 50mph when road workers are working within a few feet of passing traffic.

It is also exploring if different speed limits could operate within one set of roadworks.

This could mean people commute to work on one carriageway at 50mph as they are nearer the workforce, but drive home on the other carriageway at 60mph as the road workers are further away.

Jim O’Sullivan, chief executive of Highways England, said: “People understand roadworks are necessary but are also frustrated by them. At the same time we have to ensure as they drive through them that they, and our road workers, are safe.

“So we are always thinking of new ways to improve journeys at the same time as keeping everyone as safe as we can. That is why over the next 12 months we will test changes to the design and operation of roadworks.

“We are also working hard to give drivers more and better information about their journeys and to prepare our network for the future, for example the testing of roadside and vehicle technology, so we can continue to keep people, and the country, connected.”

During roadworks narrow lanes are installed to provide a safe working area for the workforce. Doing this means as many lanes as possible can remain open to traffic.

Currently Highways England operates a 50mph (or lower) limit in narrow lanes but this year they will test whether it is safe to operate at 60mph in certain circumstances.

This might include consideration of the width of the narrow lanes or the type of temporary safety barriers that are used.

Locations for the trials are yet to be agreed. Once underway Highways England will monitor the speed of vehicles, flow of traffic, look at incident data and gather customer feedback to determine its success.