Digital Road Network Could Lead To Higher Speed Limits

Wed 10th Apr 2019

Highways England has taken the unusual step of increasing the speed limit around roadworks on smart motorways from 50mph to 60mph.

The move came after trials found that there was no negative impact on road safety when moving up from 50mph to 60mph on a smart motorway.

Smart motorways will be renamed Digital Roads in a rebrand from the UK’s highways agency, whilst the hard shoulder will also be removed, with cars that break down now encouraged to stop in emergency lay-bys.
Speaking in The Sunday Times, Jim O’Sullivan, Highways England chief executive said: "With the volume, speed and size of modern cars, the refuge areas are safer than the hard shoulder.

"You will not get a car or truck drift into the emergency refuge area, whereas they can and do drift into the hard shoulder.

"We are now well into smart motorway operation and the statistics we have are reliable.

"They are telling us that the safety record on smart motorways is arguably better than what we see on conventional motorways."
But the move has not proved popular, with some campaigners suggesting that road safety could be compromised if cars break down and fail to make the refuge areas, forcing them to sit in live traffic.