Motorway speed limits to be cut to 60mph

Trials of lower speed limit on four stretches of motorway in England to begin this month, with the aim of reducing pollution...

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Reduced speed limits are being introduced by Highways England on four sections of motorway that have high levels of pollution. The aim of the trial is to cut the emissions and air pollution in the surrounding areas. 

Air quality will be monitored at the affected sites over the next 12-15 months to assess the benefits of the speed restriction. If they are proven to reduce pollution, Highways England is likely to make the 60mph limits permanent and it could impose the lower limit on other sections of motorway. 

The 60mph limits will be operational 24-hours a day and drivers exceeding them are likely to be fined £100 and given three penalty points. 


Highways England believes that reducing the speed of cars to 60mph will have the biggest impact on emissions, reducing them by an average of 17%. The main pollutant they are aiming to cut is nitrogen dioxide, most of which is produced by vehicles. The lower speed limits have been located where the legal limit of 200 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3) for nitrogen dioxide is consistently exceeded, and cutting the speed limit is viewed as the quickest way to bring levels down. 

The locations concerned are the M1 between junction 34s and 33 at Rotherham, the M5 between junctions one and two at Oldbury, the M6 between junctions 6 and 7 at Witton and the M602 between junctions 1 and 3 near Eccles. 

According to Highways England the impact on journey times for car drivers will be minimal because the length of road covered by each 60mph limit is only up to 4.5 miles, so drivers don’t have to slow down for a long time. 

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