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Plans to raise speed limit to 80mph

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New proposals to raise the motorway speed limit to 80mph are to be put out to consultation before the end of the year.

The Government believes a revision of the "out of date" 70mph speed limit is needed to bring Britain on a par with the rest of the developed world.

Figures from the Department of Transport show nearly half of drivers already ignore the current legal limit, risking points on their licence and a hike in their car insurance premiums.

Many motorists could potentially avoid the penalties and extra costs if the new regulation is introduced in 2013 as planned.

Supporters of the move argue that increasing the speed limit will shorten journey times and deliver widespread economic benefits.

"Now it is time to put Britain back in the fast lane of global economies and look again at the motorway speed limit which is nearly 50 years old, and out of date thanks to huge advances in safety and motoring technology," said Transport Secretary Philip Hammond.

But critics warn that it will have an effect opposite to that intended.

"Increasing the motorway speed limit to 80mph would not help the economy and would increase costs for drivers," said Stephen Joseph, chief executive of Campaign for Better Transport.

© Press Association 2011