New M1 Variable Speed Limits

18 May 2011, 08:19 | Updated: 18 May 2011, 09:04

You could now get points on your licence if you ignore the variable speed limits on a section of the M1.

Mandatory variable speed limits are being introduced on the section in Hertfordshire between Luton Airport and the M25.  A computer system can detect the speed, volume and flow of traffic and change the speed limit accordingly.  The idea is lowering the limit should stop congestion caused by drivers going too fast and then having to brake suddenly.

The variable speed limits are displayed above the motorway on overhead gantries inside a red circle, which means they are legally enforceable and you could be pulled over by the police if you ignore them.

Highways Agency project manager, John Dutson, said: "The Controlled Motorway system, which will now include variable mandatory speed limits, will bring great benefits to drivers on this busy section of the M1 – helping to reduce congestion when needed and make drivers' journeys safer and more reliable by smoothing traffic flows

"The system is already being used successfully on the M25 between junctions 10 and 16 and on the M42 between junctions 3a and 7. On the M25, where the system has been in place since 1995, 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. An overall reduction in emissions of between two per cent and eight per cent has been recorded on the M25."

Inspector Richard Johnson, Hertfordshire Constabulary, said: "Hertfordshire Constabulary fully support all initiatives to make our roads safer. It is important to remember that the speed limits are there for your safety and to improve traffic flow. There is simply no excuse for speeding and anyone caught could face prosecution. It is also important to remember that drivers should adjust their speed to suit weather conditions - sometimes it is about driving slower than the legal speed limit to continue on your journey safely."

Between 17 May and the morning of 27 May the system will be swapped over from advisory to mandatory in a phased approach: by 0530 on 27 May 2011 every signal on the gantries will be able to display variable mandatory speed limits.

The introduction of variable mandatory speed limits on the M1 follows a public consultation in March 2010. Advisory variable speed limits have been in operation on this section of the M1 since July 2009.