Drivers could be allowed to pass through motorway roadworks faster on certain days of the week, should new proposals come into force.

Highways England, which manages England’s motorway network, plans to increase the speed limit through roadworks to 55 mph or 60 mph, depending on the amount of work being carried out.

For example, the government-run company has said it could increase the limit to 60 mph on Sundays when no workers are in the area, then reduce it back to 50 mph when workers are nearby.

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The organisation is also looking at changing the limit within one set of roadworks, with 60 mph zones in place in areas where less activity is taking place.

According to Highways England’s chief executive, Jim O’Sullivan, the proposals could reduce drivers’ “frustration” with roadworks.

“People understand roadworks are necessary but are also frustrated by them,” he said. “At the same time we have to ensure as they drive through them that they, and our road workers, are safe.

“So we are always thinking of new ways to improve journeys at the same time as keeping everyone as safe as we can. That is why over the next 12 months we will test changes to the design and operation of roadworks.

“We are also working hard to give drivers more and better information about their journeys and to prepare our network for the future, for example the testing of roadside and vehicle technology, so we can continue to keep people, and the country, connected.”

However, the move has been criticised by road safety charity Brake, which described the plan as “a step in the wrong direction.”

Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake, said: “Speed is the critical factor in the severity of collisions. Strict enforcement of safe speed limits is needed to assure the safety of workers and drivers, not an increase in speed. Average speed cameras are a proven and effective deterrent to speeding and we want to see their further rollout across the motorway network to limit dangerous driving behaviour.

“A recent Brake survey has found that a quarter of drivers think it likely that they will be involved in a fatal or serious crash on a motorway or dual carriageway at some point in the future. This shocking statistic makes clear that safety should be the overriding priority for investment on our motorway network, and we hope Highways England listens to the people and reconsider their plans.”