Motorway bosses have rejected claims from a top lawyer that a new speed-limit system on the M62 is “dangerous”.
Lawyer Nick Freeman – known as Mr Loophole for his court success record – has warned that drivers using the new Managed Motorway stretch near Huddersfield were at risk.
The motoring lawyer has called the new, variable motorway speed limits on the M62 as “confusing, unnecessary and a danger to drivers”.
Mr Freeman has also called for the use of variable speed limits, which can alter from gantry to gantry, to be severely restricted unless there were specific good reasons to reduce the speed limit from 70mph.
But the plea has been rejected by the Highways Agency, which spent months working on the scheme from Junction 25 at Brighouse to Junction 30 at Rothwell.
A spokesman for the Agency said: “We have no idea why such a claim would be made about the safety of variable speed limits on the M62, or any other managed motorway.
“A three-year safety report into the M42 managed motorway scheme – on which the M62 Junction 25 to 30 scheme is based – showed that since the scheme’s opening in 2005 the total number of accidents reduced by 55.7% and the severity of those that did occur also reduced with no fatalities reported.
“From work that has been undertaken for us by the Transport Research Laboratory, we know that road users do understand the use of variable mandatory speed limits and what is expected of them as a driver.
“Early, anecdotal feedback and comments in the local press from users of the first sections to open on the M62 managed motorway has been positive, with road users finding it is making their journeys easier and safer.”
The limit changes automatically, dependant on the volume of traffic to prevent ‘stop-start’ traffic conditions that lead to congestion.
Mr Freeman said: “In my opinion variable speed limits can be a danger. Motorists are more concerned about not going over the limit flashing on the gantry ahead of them instead of keeping a careful eye on the road in front of them.
“These signs are not advisory but mandatory and drivers become obsessed with speed and distracted from what is going on around them. They do not promote driving at a steady and constant speed.
“Every time I’ve encountered variable speed limits I have to question why they are in operation. Was there a genuine need for the limit to be lowered, or was it done on a whim?”