Road safety minister Stephen Hammond has announced that trials of an 80mph speed limit on motorways is still on the government’s agenda and that they could start as early as next year.

If successful, the trial will be rolled out onto motorways across the country, with an announcement expected to be made in the autumn about the trials.

Supporters of the speed increase argue that as motorways are some of the safest in the UK, cars also become more safe when they are at speed. Former transport secretary Phillip Hammond is also a supporter and argued that increasing the speed limit can be a boost for the economy as journey times are lowered.

Stephen Hammond told Auto Express magazine: “You probably will not see it happen before the summer of next year. It might need a whole year to put the whole regulatory format in place. My message, though, is that it has not been lost. Our philosophy is that we should have the right speed on the right road.”

However, road safety charity Brake opposed the plans, saying that the increase could lead to more deaths, crashes and serious injuries.

A recent Road Safety Foundation report found motorways don’t provide enough protection to drivers to justify raising the speed limit. However, it notes that England’s motorways only account for six percent of road deaths.

RAC director Professor Stephen Glaister said: “If the limit is raised then there is likely to be an increase in carbon emissions and deaths. The irony is that free flow speeds on motorways have actually fallen in recent years, so you have to question the public appetite for a change.”