1. ITV Report

Former F1 champion Damon Hill slams plans to increase motorway speed limit

Damon Hill, right celebrates winning the 1996 F1 World Championship with his predecessor, Michael Schumacher. Photo: John Marsh/EMPICS Sport

Former world champion racing driver Damon Hill has spoken out against Government proposals to increase the motorway speed limit to 80mph.

Hill, who won 22 Grand Prix and a Formula One world championship, said that he hardly ever drives above 70mph because "it's too stressful".

The Government is consulting on raising the speed limit from 70mph to 80mph on English and Welsh motorways.

Hill, who retired in 1999, told the Radio Times: "Most people aren't safe to drive over 55.

"Honestly, the speed limit going up to 80mph makes me shudder...

"Because people drive too fast on the motorway. Mostly they drive too fast, too close to the car in front, and they think they know what they're doing. And they don't."

Damon Hill pictured in May last year. Credit: PA

Hill added: "I used to drive like that and I had a few near misses. My kids have learnt to drive and they're out on the roads and it's dangerous.

"You don't want to spoil people's fun. It's a fantastic day when you get your driving licence, but it is also for some people the worst day of their life. I escaped by the skin of my teeth when I was younger because I was a good driver, but that didn't make it OK."

Hill said driving at 200mph on a racetrack does not compare to driving at high speed on a motorway.

"The concentration level you are at in a race situation, you're in a totally different state of mind," he said.

"What happens when people drive on the roads is that they don't concentrate, they just think about something else.

"So they're relying on their unconscious to respond to things. That's why it's better to drive at a sensible pace."

Hill said that today's drivers had "learnt to behave", adding "that's got to be better than a load of spoilt kids throwing tantrums in racing cars".