Former F1 Star Damon Hill Nervous Over Proposed 80 MPH Limit

Damon Hill - image courtesy of Flickr user big-ashb

Damon Hill - image courtesy of Flickr user big-ashb

Damon Hill’s F1 career spanned some eight seasons, enough for the British driver to rack up 42 podium finishes, 22 wins, 20 pole positions and the 1996 F1 Word Championship.

As a man who’s made his living by driving cars fast, you’d expect that Hill would have retained something of a lead foot in his retirement. After all, F1 drivers possess a mastery of car control in all weather conditions that few mere mortals can rival.

Not so, says Piston Heads, who report that Hill is actually opposed to raising Britain’s motorway speed limit to 80 mph. In fact, the thought of untrained drivers humming along at 80 mph “makes him shudder,” as most drivers, in Hill’s opinion, lack the concentration necessary to drive at 55 mph, let alone faster.

Hill admits that he rarely drives above 70 mph on motorways, calling it “too stressful.”  Fellow motorists “drive too fast, too close to the car in front, and they think they know what they’re doing.”

We can’t really argue with Hill’s comments, and hope for his sake that he never has to drive in U.S. cities like Miami, New York City, Boston or Los Angeles, where the governing rule of rush hour commuting seems to be “survival of the fittest.”

Should Hill visit Austin, Texas for the U.S. Grand Prix, he’ll probably want to avoid driving on State Highway 130, too, especially if the proposed 85 mph speed limit gets approved. If Hill thinks U.K drivers are unqualified, God only knows how he’d rate motorists on this side of the pond.

We believe the solution to the problem on both sides of the Atlantic is better driver training, which (sadly) isn’t near the top of anyone’s priority list. At least Britain requires annual MOT inspections for vehicles, something the U.S. does not; while Britain’s drivers may not be much better than our own, at least they’re over-driving safe cars.

Image credit: Flickr user big-ashb, licensed under CC 2.0

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Comments (8)
  1. haha Damon would be right at home here in Oz. where the speed limit on our best roads, Freeway 1 from Sydney to Newcastle and beyond is a mind blowing 63.5mph. yep....that is our top speed. you guys may complain about the speeds etc try it out here where we have the same speed limits yet in Km/h. e.g. 100km/h is 62 mp/h.

  2. @WizardsLore, when I first started driving, U.S. interstate highways were posted at 55 mph, so driving cross-country seemed to take forever. Today the maximum speed varies by state, and FL is (mostly) a 70 mph state. I can generally make the 330 miles to Miami in under five hours, without fear of losing my license.

    Good to see you back, by the way. Were you on holiday? Walkabout?

  3. @ Kurt, ive been around, and ive been posting but i havent had any responses to my comments.
    have been busy though, work commitments et all

    that time taken is great, for the same trip we would have take around 6 and a half / 7 hours

  4. @WizardsLore, do police in Australia give you any latitude in regards to speeding? Here, the mostly-true saying for interstate driving is "Nine is fine, but ten (mph over) and you're mine."

  5. @ Kurt, here its 1 over and you're nicked. the Police on the whole are very strict. thr problem is that the interstate and highway speeds are so low.
    the problems are usually around residential areas where school zones have an enforced 40kmhr speed limit (25mphr), and the majority of the residential and suburban areas max is 50kmhr (30 mphr)

  6. The main difference between British roads, and those in the US and Oz, is not the speed limits (which people totally disregard) but the road width. Most UK lanes are 8 foot wide, where as US standard is 12 foot. I'm a UK driver, and as such I feel perfectly comfortable with closing speeds of 120-140mph and missing each other by a foot, however my north american sister-in-law found that terrifying. Missing is missing, whether by an inch or a mile :)

  7. @Dom, in my experience most Americans have no idea how big their vehicles are. Couple in our love for pickups and SUVs, and it's no wonder why narrow roads and smaller cars terrify most American drivers.

  8. @ All, the road widths in the US are huge, but also are your cars. the problem in Oz is that the road width is mainly around 7-8 foot wide, but cars have gotten wider so they are pushing the boundaries. It makes me cringe when i see a extra wide X5, Q7 or Landcruiser in front of me and i see the outside of their rear tyres mere centremetres from the inside of the paintedlines. couppled with the drivers total inability to control their cars, means that its a dicey drive at the best of times when fighting these urban warriors for road space. And this is usually in a straight line. give them a corner and they drift over or cut inside without a thought.

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