M5 J17-16 variable speed limit

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Dear Highways England Company Limited,

Please provide full details of the reason the M5 variable speed limit was set to 20mph Northbound between J17 and J16 on 16 September 2017 at 9.40pm, the time at which this 20mph speed limit was introduced, the time it ended, and the duration of the activity or issue that led to the speed limit being in force.

Please also provide the legal basis for a speed limit of 20mph being set on a motorway.

Yours faithfully,

Mr C Simons

Highways England, Highways England Company Limited

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Highways England Company Limited | General enquiries: 0300 123 5000
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Highways England, Highways England Company Limited

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Dear Mr Simons,

 

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Highways England Company Limited | Registered Office: Bridge House, 1
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Price, Gareth, Highways England Company Limited

Dear Mr Simons

 

Thank you for contacting Highways England; I have been asked to respond to
your query about variable speed limits on the M5 motorway. This response
has not been carried out under the Freedom of Information Act as this is
information we provide on a regular basis to our customers.

 

Highways England records some signal data for operational purposes;
however our database is not certified or calibrated to enforcement
standards, and it is not connected to the variable speed cameras. It may
contain errors, particularly in the times at which particular speed limits
were recorded, since (unlike the enforcement cameras) it was not designed
to provide 100% accuracy. This means that the records we hold do not
constitute legal proof of what speed limit was displayed, and could not be
relied on in court for the purpose of challenging a speeding ticket.

 

In order to answer your query, I consulted the information available to me
in this database; this indicates that on the date and time of your journey
a reduced speed limit of 20mph was in effect on the M5.This was due to a
full carriageway closure being in place at J16 M5, following a
multi-vehicle fatal road traffic collision between J15 and J14 requiring a
closure to be placed at J16 M5.When a full carriageway closure is
required, the signs and signals standards require a 20mph speed limit to
be placed on gantries prior to the gantries displaying the red X.The 20mph
speed limit was set at 14:53:29 on the 16/09/17 and removed at 21:07:00 on
the 17/09/17.

 

The electronic signals on the M5 have been installed as part of the
J17-J16 smart motorway scheme. The aim of this scheme is to actively
control traffic flow and reduce congestion, using variable speed limits
set in response to conditions on the road, as well as by opening up the
hard shoulder as a running lane at busy periods. Existing smart motorways
have successfully reduced congestion without compromising safety, at a
significantly lower construction cost to the taxpayer than traditional
road widening.

 

Enforcement is one of a number of measures which are used to encourage
compliance with speed limits, so that the benefits of the scheme can be
delivered to road users. Camera warning signs are used to ensure drivers
are aware that enforcement is in operation on these sections. Variable
speed enforcement cameras are operated by the Police, and the information
generated by them is not held by Highways England; this means that I do
not have access to any details of offences recorded.

 

However, I can tell you that the cameras are certified by the Home Office,
to ensure that they operate fairly and provide legal proof of what speed
limit was displayed. This involves strict design requirements which mean
that they can only enforce a reduced speed limit if it is correctly
displayed and the system is working properly; they are not capable of
enforcing a different limit to the one which is displayed. Because of
this, confirmation of the speed limit can only come from the information
held by the Police, which is used to generate the enforcement notices.

 

I hope that the information I have provided helps to explain why this
system is needed, and that there are safeguards in place to ensure it
operates fairly.

 

Yours Sincerely,

 

Gareth Price, Regional Enforcement Co-ordinator
Highways England | Brunel House | 930 Hempton Court | Aztec West |
Almondsbury | BS32 4SR

Web: [1]http://www.highways.gov.uk

 

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recipient, you are hereby notified that any copying, distribution,
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notify the sender and destroy it.

 

Highways England Company Limited | General enquiries: 0300 123 5000
|National Traffic Operations Centre, 3 Ridgeway, Quinton Business Park,
Birmingham B32 1AF |
[2]https://www.gov.uk/government/organisati... |
[3][Highways England request email]

 

Registered in England and Wales no 9346363 | Registered Office: Bridge
House, 1 Walnut Tree Close, Guildford, Surrey GU1 4LZ 

 

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need to.

References

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2. https://www.gov.uk/government/organisati...
3. mailto:[Highways England request email]

Dear Gareth Price,

Thanks for your response, but it is incomplete. I requested the basis for the speed limit being set at 20mph. You have stated that the sign and signals standards required this, but have not provided a copy of the signs and signals standards document in question. Please provide the document that sets out the standards as the information demonstrating the basis for the limit.

Yours sincerely,

Chris Simons

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