McLoughlin cool on raising speed limit

The new transport secretary has insisted that the safety of the UK's roads will be his primary concern when weighing up plans to raise the motorway speed limit to 80mph.

Patrick McLoughlin, who replaced Philip Hammond as transport secretary in this month's cabinet reshuffle, said that the majority of serious road accidents occur because of breaking the speed limit, adding that he intends to put safety first.

"First and foremost in my mind will be road safety, but I will look at the evidence - there's a consultation taking place on that," he said.

"What we have to have in our mind is that speed does kill and most of the very serious accidents that take place on our roads involve people disobeying the speed limits."

A consultation is already under way into the possibility of raising the speed limit on English and Welsh motorways after Mr Hammond said in 2011 that the current 70mph limit was "discredited" and brought the law "into disrepute".

However, his replacement as transport secretary certainly appears to be less convinced by the plans and McLoughlin was very clear that the overriding emphasis would be on safety.

"What's very important is that we never lose sight about the issue of safety on our roads," he added.

"Nothing will detract me from what is safe overall, and road safety and our record on road safety has to be paramount in my mind."

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