Motorway speed limits could be axed if Liz Truss becomes PM

Favourite to replace Boris Johnson also says she would stop smart motorways, describing them as an experiment that hasn’t worked...


The Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, who is expected to win the race to be the next UK Prime Minister, has suggested that she could make motorway speed limits advisory.

Asked at the final hustings of the Conservative Party leadership campaign whether she would consider abolishing the current 70mph limit and allowing drivers to choose their own safe speed, Truss said: “I would be prepared to look at that.”

However, Truss – who in 2018 advocated an increase in the motorway limit to 80mph to help boost the nation’s productivity – added that she couldn’t currently give “a precise answer” on what her policy around speed limits would be.

By contrast, she was unequivocal when talking about smart motorways, describing them as “an experiment that hasn’t worked”, and saying she would stop them.

This mirrors the position of her leadership rival, former Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who has previously said “smart motorways are unpopular because they are unsafe” and that the Government needs to “stop with the pursuit of policies that go against common sense”.

Smart motorways – what to do if you break down

Introduced in an effort to reduce congestion, smart motorways either have no hard shoulder or a hard shoulder that can be used as a live lane during peak traffic hours, in order to increase road capacity and improve traffic flow.

Safety concerns have been raised, though, because the emergency refuge areas on smart motorways are allowed to be up to 1.5 miles apart, meaning cars that break down can become stranded in live lanes.

According to a National Highways report published in May, deaths or serious injuries caused by collisions with stopped vehicles on conventional motorways occurred at a rate of 0.09 victims per 100 million miles driven between 2016 and 2020. On smart motorways without a hard shoulder, the rate more than doubled to 0.19.

The name of the new Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister will be announced in Parliament on Monday September 5 at 12.30pm.

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Read more: What to do if your car breaks down on a smart motorway >>