Of course, the biggest argument against raising the speed limit on the motorway is that if drivers are legally allowed to do 80mph, wouldn’t they be more tempted to push that to 90mph, 100mph or higher?
The Institute of Advanced Motoring claims that pushing the limit up by 10mph would see average traffic speeds increase, meaning that accidents would be significantly more severe and thereby would lead to more people killed or seriously injured.
The Alliance of British Drivers points to research from the US, where speed limits have been increased since 1995 with no significant increase in collisions.
Technically the team had done nothing wrong as there was no limit, but when it was accidentally leaked over a lunchtime discussion in a Fleet Street bar, the press caught wind of it and sparked outrage, claiming that it was irresponsible and unsafe.
Although it makes for a good story, the Minister for Transport at the time, Barbara Castle, claimed that Shelby’s testing had no influence on the introduction of the law, and that it instead came as a result of research from the government’s Road Research Laboratory.
Some campaigners claim that the 70mph is outdated and tout the benefits of an 80mph limit, but would raising the restriction really benefit motorists?
The 70mph limit was first imposed on motorways in 1965, during a four-month trial period that was introduced to cut the high number of accidents after Britain’s first motorway, the M1, was opened in 1959.
Since then, the notion of an 80mph limit has been batted around here and then but with not much attention paid to it, but despite the fact the limit remains at 70, many drivers consider 80mph to be the de facto speed limit.