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Government could raise speed limit

Transport secretary Philip Hammond is considering raising the motorway speed limit to 80mph in order to shorten journey times and boost the economy.

Hammond claimed the anti-car lobby used road safety as an excuse both to oppose raising the speed limit and to campaign for more 20mph zones in cities and towns.

Despite Britain having some of the safest roads in Europe – and by far the safest motorways – Hammond said safety alone should not determine speed limits but that a cost benefit analysis should also be factored in.

The government is also considering bringing in more variable motorway speed limits, which fall when traffic is congested and rise when roads are empty.

Although fuel consumption is up to 20% higher at 80mph than 70mph, Hammond dismissed speculation that speed limits could actually be cut to reduce consumption.

UK motorway speed limits are lower than in many other European countries such as France, Italy, Spain and Ireland. Parts of the German autobahn network are unrestricted with no speed limits.

There were 132 deaths on UK motorways in 2009.

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