Reduced Journey Times Through Roadworks: A Risk Worth Taking?

27 July 2020

The Road Safety Markings Association (RSMA) has today voiced its concern at the decision made by Highways England to allow the speed limit within some roadworks to be increased to 60mph and urges caution in respect of how the increases are implemented.

The RSMA notes that Highways England project teams and their supply chain partners may increase the speed limit within roadworks to 60 mph but only when, in their opinion, it is safe to do so. The RSMA believes this decision increases unnecessarily the risk to road workers and road users as it does not provide appropriate balance between the desire for reduced journey times through roadworks and the safety of road workers and road users.

Stu McInroy, RSMA Chief Executive, said “One of the reasons quoted for increasing the speed limit to 60 mph is that more people stayed within it when compared with 50 mph; this is irrational. Enforcement of the 50 mph limit with appropriate sanction for those who fail to acknowledge the risk to road workers and users that their actions create would have been more appropriate.

“I urge all involved to weigh very seriously the balance of the risk to road workers and road users against the reward of slightly reduced journey times, before making the decision to increase the speed limit within some roadworks to 60 mph.

“There is, in my opinion, a distinct possibility that such a move shall negatively train drivers to the point whereby they continue to disregard lower speed limits and begin to breach the ‘new normal’ of 60 mph.

“Even if the likelihood of an event occurring within roadworks as a result of the increased speed of vehicles remains the same, the overall risk rises significantly as the effect of an event at 60 mph vice 50 mph is so much more. I question whether this is a risk worth taking.”

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