Variable speed limits criticised

A top motoring lawyer has branded variable speed limits used on the M42 and M6 near Birmingham as "confusing" and a "danger" to motorists.

Managed motorways criticised - full report

by Keith Wilkinson

They were introduced to ease congestion around Birmingham, but there are claims tonight that the growing number of speed controls on motorways are causing confusion to drivers - and have become a distracting danger.

But the claims are strongly disputed. The Highways Agency say there's evidence that variable speed limits have brought a dramatic fall in accidents. Watch the full report.


Highways Agency rubbish claims variable-speed is dangerous

The Highways Agency have told ITV Central they have "no idea" why a top motoring lawyer would claim that managed-motorways are unsafe.

Mr Loophole, as he's known, has criticised the use of variable speed limits on managed motorways has suggested that actually increasing speed limits would be safer for drivers.

We have no idea why such a claim would be made when a three-year safety report into M42 managed motorway scheme showed that since the scheme's opening in 2005 the total number of accidents reduced by 55.7 per cent and the severity of those that did occur also reduced with no fatalities reported. And, the system continues to perform well, not just on the M42 but also on stretches of the M1, M25, M6 and M62.

"Furthermore when we have spoken to people who use sections of managed motorway around Birmingham, they have said they welcome anything that makes their journeys easier and safer."

– Highways Agency Statement

What are managed motorways?

M42 near Birmingham where variable speed limits have been working well, according to the Highways Agency Credit: David Jones/PA Wire

The Highways Agency say "managed motorways" have been working well for some time on the M42 and M6 near Birmingham.

A "man­aged motor­way" uses over­head signage to control speed limits and hard-shoulder running, depending on the level of congestion, to make journey times more reliable.

The Highways Agency website says: "We intro­duce man­aged motor­ways where it is the best solu­tion to tackle con­ges­tion. We use the most appro­pri­ate meth­ods and tech­nol­ogy to ensure peo­ple can make their jour­neys reli­ably and safely."

Work is currently taking place on the M6 around Spaghetti Junction to implement the managed motorway system.


Variable speed limits on motorways criticised

Managed motorway system used on the M42 Credit: David Jones/PA Wire

A top motoring lawyer has criticised variable speed limits on motorways, saying they are confusing and a danger to drivers.

Nick Freeman, aka Mr Loophole, says having different speeds for different lanes can be a hazard because "motorists are more concerned about not going over the limit flashing on the gantry ahead of them instead of keeping a careful eye on the road in front of them."

Mr Loophole cited the M42 near the NEC as one example.