Back to all reports

40 mph limit unnecessarily

Reported via desktop in the Sign issue category anonymously at 07:23, Fri 18 December 2020

Sent to Highways England less than a minute later

Good morning, I use the Hindhead tunnel twice per day.

There is very often 1 lane closed for the whole tunnel even though an obstruction may be at the beginning of the tunnel or the end which is unnecessary.

This morning, at 615, the Northbound tunnel was down to 40mph for no reason whatsoever. This, I believe causes a hazard as for example, I reduced my speed to 40mph and an articulated lorry had to break hard and go round me.

The tunnel needs to be monitored much closer to avoid unnecessary speed restrictions and lane closures.

RSS feed of updates to this problem Receive email when updates are left on this problem.


  • Our Tunnel Manager who has explained when the tunnel was designed it was determined that the safest operation for an obstruction within Hindhead Tunnel would be to either close the affected lane or to close the entire the bore. Although the visible obstruction (usually a motor vehicle) will show in a particular location, there is the risk that the driver of the vehicle is either in a safety niche or cross-passageway, or walking through the bore to the exit. To ensure road user safety, the lane is closed to provide maximum protection to any person who may not be immediately visible to the road user but may appear unexpectedly beside the closed lane. Additionally, there is the concern that if only a part of the lane should be closed, once past the closed section, drivers would move into the now reopened lane at differing locations and speeds and create a greater hazard where merging of traffic is uncontrolled. From these considerations at the design stage, the signage in place at Hindhead Tunnel cannot be operated individually but are part of a range of pre-set plans that are implemented by the Control Room.

    In the case of the reduced speed limit on the 18th December 2020, scheduled tunnel works had been occurring in a contraflow environment overnight and were programmed to end on the morning of the 18th. The register for recording closures of Hindhead Tunnel shows the reduced speed limit was lifted at 06:28 on the morning of the 18th. Although the contraflow had been removed, a precautionary reduced speed limit remained in place slightly longer than intended while the maintenance team checked and confirmed all communications to the installed technology was operating to the standard required by the Tunnel Control Room.

    The use of a Radar Incident Detection System was installed within Hindhead Tunnel in its construction and these radar have the ability to implement a reduced speed limit automatically if they detect a hazard. When the radar activates the reduced speed limit, the Control Room will confirm from CCTV if a hazard is present or if the alert is a false alarm. If a false alarm is detected, the reduced speed limit will be cancelled returning the bore to national speed limit.

    This can give rise to 40mph speed limits being in force for no apparent reason while the operator checks for both hazards and a possible cause if no hazard is apparent. There are instances when a reduced speed limit may be implemented when no reason is apparent to the road user; this can occasionally be due to an issue with the technology itself or it can be mitigation for an incident that, although has no immediate impact on the tunnel operation, does have the potential to compromise road user safety.

    Kind regards

    Highways England

    Posted by Highways England at 11:35, Monday 1 February 2021

  • Again, the 40mph speed limit is being activated for absolutely no reason whatsoever. since the end of last week and every morning this week, the tunnel northbound is reduced to 40mph for absolutely no reason. I enter the tunnel every morning at around 615 northbound. Furthermore, I note there is a van with his amber beacon flashing within the barriers on the entry to the northbound tunnel. This causes unnecessary obstruction and I consider it a safety risk

    Posted anonymously at 08:16, Wednesday 3 February 2021

Provide an update

Your information will only be used in line with our privacy policy

No personal details will be stored.

Your update