Roadworks speed limits scrapped in trial to beat Yorkshire M-way gridlock

Faster speed limits beside motorway roadworks are being trialled on a stretch of the M1 in South Yorkshire to beat delays while routes are improved and repaired.

The M1 in South Yorkshire

The rules preventing drivers going faster than 50mph near works could be scrapped if safety is not compromised during the test.

Highways England is currently trialling a 60mph limit near upgrades on the M1 near Rotherham.

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The announcement came days after health experts called for wider use of variable speed limits and average speed checks to cut air pollution.

Fumes play a role in around 25,000 deaths a year in England, almost 5% of the total, according to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice).

Transport Minister John Hayes said: “Motorists should not be needlessly held up as we deliver a £15 billion upgrade to motorways and major A-roads to improve journeys.

“Safety is our absolute priority. Highways England are carrying out a trial of 60mph on the M1 to see if we can raise the speed limit in roadworks without putting people at risk.

“I will be looking carefully at the results of this trial before we look to roll this out more widely next year, if it is a success.”

Last week Nice published draft guidance calling for increased use of variable limits to cut down on pollution-heavy traffic jams.

The M1 trial taking place over a four-mile stretch of the northbound carriageway began in November and is due to go on for around another two weeks.

AA president Edmund King said: “We believe it would be safe to increase the speed limits in roadworks particularly if the continuous lengths of the roadworks are shortened to no more than 10 miles.

“The current 50mph limit can lead to problems, particularly with HGV speed limiters set above 50mph, which often leads to dangerous tail-gating.

“Some sections of roadworks, such as on the M3 between the M25 and Hook, are just far too long and can compromise safety.

“Whilst drivers understand the need for roadworks, we believe that much can be done to improve journeys through the roadworks so welcome these initiatives.”