Unfit for 80: An Assessment of the Safety of England's Motorways

14 May 2012

The government has proposed raising the motorway speed limit to 80mph. This report looks at the evidence, including fresh analysis of the Foundation's unique crash and engineering data and finds that currently motorways do not provide enough protection to drivers and car occupants to consider raising the speed limit.

In new research, it shows widespread faults in run-off protection which are doubling the rate of death and serious injury where there is missing protection.  It shows shunt crashes rise exponentially with increased traffic flow, yet only a handful of motorway sections like the M25 and M42 have the electronic controls with hazard warning and variable speed limits that are needed to manage the intense flows common acrossEngland's motorways.

The report outlines the negative economic effects of a higher speed limit, which include increased vehicle operating costs through higher fuel consumption; increased crashes and crash severity, resulting in raised crash costs; and the increased cost caused by delays from crashes.

The report concludes with recomendations for key measures to deliver economic benefits and improve the safety of motorways.