Coolest Minister In British Government Wants to Raise the Speed Limit to 80 MPH

Illustration for article titled Coolest Minister In British Government Wants to Raise the Speed Limit to 80 MPH
Image: AP Photo/Matt Dunham

Worker smarter, not harder, as the saying goes. But what about faster? Faster is good too. And the United Kingdom’s Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Liz Truss, thinks her fellow Britons would waste a lot less time—and productivity—if the national speed limit were raised from 70 to 80 mph.


Truss was at a Conservative Party Conference meeting where she said raising the speed limit could be part of an economic growth plan for the country, the UK’s Telegraph reports. Truss said that British drivers are wasting their precious time stuck in traffic. But it doesn’t have to be this way!

From the story:

She said: “I’d also like us to look again at things like our speed limits on the motorway. We have often toyed with the idea of raising it to 80mph, why don’t we look at that again?

Speaking afterwards she said raising the speed limit would lead to “productivity improvements”.

This was because drivers would be able to get to meetings more quickly. She added that they would be “wasting less of their lives” in their cars or vans.

Asked if there were risks that it would make roads less safe Ms Truss told The Telegraph: “We have responsible drivers in this country.”

Raising freeway speed limits was first introduced by then-Transport Secretary Philip Hammond in 2011, but it was shelved due to lack of public support. Now that Hammond is Chancellor, the idea is back on the table.

Come on Brits! I know you’re all polite and reserved, but you’re also a nation of great cars and great drivers. Why is it so hard to get the people higher speed limits? It turns out it’s not just national character that dictates public opinion of speed limits. It’s a problem here in the U.S. too. Our speeds are too damn slow. Dangerously so, in some cases.

Public distrust for high speed limits come from decades of fear mongering promoted by driving schools, police and the media. It’s been shown time and again that “Speed Kills” is a myth. In fact, it’s local roads, the ones with the lowest speed limits, that tend to have the highest rates of fatal accidents, according to the US Department of Transportation. My home state of Michigan began raising speed limits on certain roads in the last few years, with Michigan State Police Lieutenant Gary Megge saying:

I’ve seen my share of fatal wrecks, and I can tell you: Deaths are not caused by speeding. They’re caused by drinking, drugs and inattentiveness. The old adage that speed kills just isn’t realistic. The safest speed is the speed that is correct for that roadway at a given time. A lot of speed limits are set artificially low.


And in Texas, the speed limit on State Highway 130 is 85 mph, and that’s awesome..

There are a variety of ways speed limits can be set. One is via an engineering calculation based on the actual speed a majority of drivers maintain on a certain stretch of road. Unfortunately, this method involves real-world studies and math, so speed limits are more often set by ill-informed lawmakers who are subject to the same constituents who have been cowed into driving too slowly for decades.


This seems like a common sense tactic for Britain to take. If and when it happens, consider going fast on the highways as a daily activity, British people. It won’t make you any less polite.

Managing Editor of Jalopnik.


A. Barth

if the national speed limit was raised from 70 to 80 mph.

If it were raised.

EDIT: This has been fixed.

Truss said that British drivers are wasting their precious time stuck in traffic.

If they are “stuck in traffic”, they won’t be able to go 70mph or 80mph. They’ll be creeping along below 30mph and the speed limit will be immaterial. I appreciate the idea of raising the speed limit but Truss is not going about it very well.