THE 70 MPH
This note clarifies the origins of the 70 mph
and 60 mph speed limits.
An overall maximum speed limit of 70 mph was
introduced as an experimental measure on all roads in 1965. This
followed a number of multiple crashes on the M1. The 70 mph limit
was introduced purely for road safety reasons.
See Hansard 18 May 1966 Col 1271 about the continuation
of the experimental speed limit. Monitoring of the experiment
by the Road Research Laboratory noted a reduction in killed and
seriously injured casualties of 19 per cent on rural and class
one roads, including, motorways, in the months of January and
The 70 mph limit became permanent in 1967.
A 50 mph speed limit on all roads was introduced
during the fuel crisis in 1973 as a temporary measure to reduce
fuel consumption. The speed limit was restored to 70 mph on motorways
in March 1974 and to all purpose roads in May 1974.
In December 1974 speed limits of 60 mph and
50 mph were introduced on dual carriageway and single carriageway
roads, respectively. In June 1977 these were increased to 70 mph
and 60 mph respectively, and have remained so since.