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M20 Speed Limits Come Into Force


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The M20 is to become one of only three motorways in the UK where the police can enforce variable speed limits.

Changeable limits have been displayed on gantries between junctions 4 (West Malling) and 7 (Detling) since 2007 but only for advice.

From the end of August police will be able to enforce limits using cameras to catch motorists driving too fast.

Variable speed signs are displayed on motorway gantries across the country but the M20 will be only the third place in the country where limits can be enforced by law.

The other two stretches of road are on the M25 and the M42.

The scheme comes after a public consultation by the Highway Agency last year.

More than 40 per cent of people who took part in the consultation objected to the plans, with some criticising it as a money-making scheme and others calling it flawed.

Highways Agency regional performance manager Barry Westwood believes the scheme will help the flow of traffic and improve safety.

He said: “It will bring great benefits to drivers on this busy section of the M20, helping to reduce congestion and make drivers’ journeys safer and more reliable by smoothing traffic flows.

“The system is already being used successfully on the M25.

"It has helped to make the motorway safer by reducing the frequency of collisions by 10 per cent and by encouraging drivers to keep within the speed limits to provide smoother, more reliable journeys during peak times.”

The system will work by using sensors in the road to detect the speed, volume and flow of traffic.

It will then calculate a speed designed to keep traffic moving and in theory reduce the level of stop-start traffic that leads to congestion.


Ain't technology great.

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I've been on the M42 when these are in force, they do work.

It's frustrating but the traffic is so heavy that restricting it all to 50 mph keeps it flowing. The tailgaters who accelerate hard to 80 mph and then slam the brakes on, causing the domino effect of brake lights, is all but eliminated.

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Does this tell us that the motorways are full and they arn't going to build anymore and the only way to prevent long delays is to manage traffic via ruthlessly enforced speed limits?

Ive been saying for a while now this is a strange recession where the roads are just as full as always.

Be interesting if the promised public sector cuts will make any difference, I suspect not.

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Was on the M42 recently and the variable speed limit sign suddenly posted 20mph from being off. The 4 previous gantries had different successive speeds of between 40 and 60, the last being 60. All of this with no changes in traffic volumes.

Everyone braked like crazy, a Royal Mail wagon locked its wheels in front of me and started jackknifing.

Of course they would never change them deliberately all the time to catch people out.

If peak oil doesn't happen it will of course cost extra £billions to convert the gantries to cover the widening by extra lane or two.

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You mean that the variable speed limit signs on the M4 aren't actually policed by the cameras? I just assumed that the speed cameras were linked up to the same system as the gantry signs (or at least thought that there was a very strong possibility that they were).

It's only the overhead gantry ones with a sign over each lane that are enforceable. There are always big warning signs before you enter the stretch of road.

The black ones with orange bulbs that occur in singles are just there for advice.

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The thing that amuses me is the use of the phrase "public consultation". It's like the Vogons in "Hitchhiker's guide" - there's no consultation, just smallprint which they don't tell you about.

This sort of thing is being rolled out over the whole country, over the next few years. It's for your own good supposedly.

My favourite is the stretch of road, which I use daily, on the M1 from J6 - J10 (just where they've finished developing it) - they're going to introduce variable speed limits there as well :-


"What are the policy objectives and the intended effects?

The implementation of variable mandatory speed limits on the M1 junctions 6A to 10 will improve

traffic flow, reduce accidents and reduce carbon emissions."

I challenge anyone to find any other reasonable wide-audience news sources about this, or any other discussion or challenges to this diktat.

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I think it's useful when it works but I have often been through them when the traffic wasn't even heavy.

I remember them coming on once as I was driving back from Heathrow at 6 in the morning. There was barely a car on the road. It was like it was trying to pre-empt anticipated increasing traffic or something.

I'm calling money-making scheme under the guise of safety.

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