The Government looks set to scrap plans to raise the UK motorway speed limit to 80mph.
Giving a clear indication that the 70mph maximum seems likely to remain in place, recently-appointed Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said safety on the roads was his primary concern, adding: "Speed does kill".
His comments come as the Government is currently deciding whether to give the speed limit increase the go-ahead - an idea first proposed by McLoughlin's predecessor Philip Hammond.
"What's very important is that we never lose sight of the issue of safety on our roads," McLoughlin told the Murnaghan programme on Sky News.
"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.
"But 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.
"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."
The independent road safety charity Brake welcomed the comments. "Managing traffic speed is crucial in preventing needless deaths and injuries," said Julie Townsend, Brake's deputy chief executive.
"We look forward to hearing more from the new transport ministers on how they will usher in a better era for safety on roads and help to counter the recent increase in casualties."
Speaking exclusively to Autoblog, the Institute of Advanced Motorists' director of policy, Neil Greig, said more work should be done in cutting the number of road deaths - which rose for the first time in five years in 2011.
He added: "There was never any conclusive evidence that road safety, the environment or the economy would benefit from an increase in the motorway speed limit.
"The government's top priority must now be ensuring that last year's surprise increase in deaths on the UK's roads does not become a trend."
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