Proposed 80 mph limit likely to be scrapped

Overall speed limits have remained unchanged for many years. Although there was some talk last year of an increase to 80mph, recent newspaper reports have suggested a change of heart by the coalition.

Speed limits were first introduced as long ago as 1865. Between 1865 and 1896 locomotives on the road had to be preceded by a pedestrian carrying a red flag. They were subject to a speed limit of 2 mph in populated areas and 4 mph elsewhere. The maximum speed limit was then increased to 14 mph and, in 1903, to 20 mph.

From 1930 until 1934 there were no speed limits for cars and motorcycles. How things have changed since! 1934 saw the introduction of a 30 mph speed limit in built up areas, as well as the compulsory driving test.

Other roads had no speed limit at all until 1965, when an upper limit of 70 mph was introduced for all roads including motorways. During the 1974 fuel crisis there was a temporary maximum of 50 mph on all roads until May of that year. Then in December 1974 the speed limit was reduced again to 50 mph on single carriageway roads and 60 on dual carriageways. In 1977 the limits were increased to 60 and 70 respectively.


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