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The 80mph speed limit – Is it really economical?

October 10, 2015

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Environmental and road safety campaigners are up in arms against the government’s proposal to increase the national speed limit on motorways to 80mph. Transport Secretary Philip Hammond claims that the current speed limit, which was introduced in 1965, is out of date, especially considering technological advancements in motoring safety.

Empty fuel gauge

Image Via Tom BKK

 The reasoning behind the government plan is to boost economic savings through shorter journey times, but the Green Party has said that it will increase CO2 emissions, and road safety charities such as Brake say that it will lead to an increase in the number of casualties on our roads.

Brake’s chief executive, Mary Williams said: “This is a selfish move that will achieve nothing other than carnage and is pandering to an uninformed few.”

Yes, we get from A-to-B much faster, but at what cost? It could increase the chance of accidents and carbon emissions.

An initial assessment estimates that across all roads there would be a 1% increase in the number of road deaths; carbon emissions from a medium sized petrol car increase by 15% when it accelerates from 70-80mph, emissions from a diesel car would increase by 25%.

Another important question though, is will it really save money?

Petrol and diesel isn’t exactly cheap these days. Although a 2p reduction is on the horizon, with most of the public still feeling the pinch, how much more petrol are we likely to use driving at higher speeds?

The RAC Foundation suggest driving at 80mph could mean using about 20% more fuel than driving at 70mph. For someone who drives to work from Monday to Friday, this can all add up to a huge increase in the number trips to the filling station.

From personal experience, I know first hand the increase in fuel consumption when driving at higher speeds on the motorway. While my journey from Glasgow to Edinburgh is 55 miles, I use up to 70 miles of petrol driving at 70mph. This is dramatically cut when I drive at 60mph when I use as little as 50 miles of petrol. Over the course of a week, this decrease in speed can lead to huge savings although it does take slightly longer to get to my destination of course.

But for those of us who still want to drive at the new proposed speed limit, what can we do to counteract the extra expenditure? Here’s a previous post on how to make your money go that little bit further.

Do you think the speed limit should be increased to 80mph, or should it stay at 70mph? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.

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