Drivers in favour of slower wet weather driving

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An RAC survey of more than 2,000 drivers suggests that 72% would like to see the standard 70mph speed limit on motorways reduced in wet weather to potentially save lives.

An RAC survey of more than 2,000 drivers suggests that 72% would like to see the standard 70mph speed limit on motorways reduced in wet weather to potentially save lives.

Road accident statistics from the Department for Transport (DfT) show that 246 people were killed or seriously injured on UK motorways in 2019 when the road surface was damp, wet, or flooded.

Of the reasons given by drivers who advocate lower motorway speed limits in the wet, 78% said they felt lower limits would encourage some drivers to slow down, while 72% believed it might save lives, so is worth trying.

A spokesperson from the RAC, said: “Statistically, the UK has some of the safest motorways in Europe but it’s also the case that there hasn’t been a reduction in casualties of all severities on these roads since 2012, so perhaps there’s an argument for looking at different measures to help bring the number of casualties down.
“Overall, our research suggests drivers are broadly supportive of lower motorway speed limits in wet conditions, as is already the case across the Channel in France. And, while most drivers already adjust their speed when the weather turns unpleasant, figures show that ‘driving too fast for the conditions’ and ‘slippery roads’ are still among the top 10 reasons for motorway collisions and contribute to significant numbers of serious injuries and even deaths every year.”


Those in favour of lower speed limits in the wet think it should be reduced to:

  • 50/55mph – 17%
  • 60mph – 33%
  • 65% – 7% 
  • Reduce speed but unsure by how much – 14%


However, 21% of drivers responded that they weren’t in favour of a reduction. Of those, 54% felt that most drivers already adjust their speed to the conditions, and 60% felt it would be difficult to define when the new limit should apply.

Interestingly, 41% thought drivers wouldn’t obey a lower motorway limit.
“The overall success of any scheme would of course depend on sufficient numbers of motorists reducing their speed, but even just a proportion reducing their speed in the wet would be likely to improve the safety of the UK’s motorways,” continued the RAC’s spokesperson.
“It’s worth remembering that an increasing number of stretches of motorway no longer have permanent 70mph limits, as all smart motorways feature speed limits which are automatically adjusted to ease congestion based on traffic flow.
“With digital signs now so commonplace, arguably the means exist to conduct a trial to see whether there are safety benefits of setting different speed limits in inclement weather.”

Highway Code Rule 227 states that stopping distances in wet weather are at least double those required for stopping on dry roads.