Dominic Browne 09 August 2022

UK first as Surrey plans speed reduction trials on 60mph roads

UK first as Surrey plans speed reduction trials on 60mph roads image
Image: Ian Walsh/

Surrey County Council has announced plans to pilot speed limits of 20mph and 30mph on roads that were previously 60mph, in what is thought to be a UK first.

The pilot area covers 80 square miles south of a line from Guildford to Dorking.

Rural roads have long been seen as the country's most dangerous, with most country roads still at a default 60mph limit, which has remained in place since 1977.

Rural roads often present the danger of difficult corners, the prospect of high speed head-on collisions, a lack of passive safety and obstacles such as trees at the side of the road.

In total, rural roads have an annual toll of about 10,000 deaths and serious injuries among motorists, cyclists and walkers.

They also claim most road deaths (57%) in Britain, despite accounting for 43% of traffic, the Times has reported.

Up until now, most speed reduction trials had seen 30mph roads become 20mph rather than tackle the acute problem of 60mph rural routes.

However the Surrey trial comes after local government directors through ADEPT criticised the 60mph national speed limit on single carriageway rural roads, stating it was 'of particular concern'.

Matt Furniss, Surrey County Council cabinet member for transport, infrastructure and economy said: 'This project is an important opportunity for us to improve the safety of our rural roads in the south and southwest of Surrey and ensure that the most appropriate speed limit is applied to each.

'Most rural roads in the area are still subject to the national speed limit of 60mph, which is inappropriate for these types of roads.

'Evidence suggests that implementing lower speed limits should reduce the number and severity of road collisions, whilst also helping to support our active travel programme, improve air quality, and address concerns over excessive vehicle noise.'

Surrey did not provide details of when the trial would begin at this stage.

This story originally appeared in Highways.

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