Seven in every 10 British motorists would support the idea of lower motorway speed limits in wet weather, according to new research. The RAC study of more than 2,000 drivers found 72 percent would like to see the ‘standard’ 70 mph limit reduced in wet weather to improve safety.

Of those questioned, a third (33 percent) said they thought the wet-weather limit should be 60 mph, while seven percent went with 65 mph. Seventeen percent said they wanted an even lower limit of 55 mph or even 50 mph, while 14 percent said they would like to see the limit fall, but they were unsure of what the new limit should be.

Among those who advocate lower speed limits, almost eight in 10 (78 percent) said they thought cutting the limit would encourage some drivers to slow down, while 72 percent said they thought such a measure would save lives. Two-thirds (65 percent) of respondents said slower speeds might reduce spray and improve visibility, while just over half (53 percent) said it would reduce overall vehicle speeds, even if some drivers ignored the lower limit.

Motorway sign to slow down for heavy rain and spray

Of those drivers opposed to the idea of a lower motorway speed limit in bad weather, more than half (54 percent) said it was because most drivers already adjust their speed to the conditions, while 60 percent said it would be too difficult to define when the new limit should apply. Four in 10 (42 percent) said many drivers ignore existing speed limits anyway and a similar proportion (41 percent) thought drivers wouldn’t obey a lower motorway limit.

RAC data insight spokesman Rod Dennis said: “Statistically, the UK has some of the safest motorways in Europe,” said RAC data insight spokesman Rod Dennis. “But 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.

“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. There would also be a number of practical hurdles to be overcome such as deciding what that lower limit would be, updating the Highway Code and fitting roadside signage to inform drivers of the new limits.”

Heavy traffic on wet British motorway at night