The speed limit on motorways will be cut to 60mph to reduce emissions in badly-polluted areas.
The trial project, introduced by Highways England, will be implemented across four areas of the UK by the end of the month in order to assess the impact of slower moving traffic on roadside air quality.
It will be the first time that the maximum speed limit, which is currently 70mph on motorways, is lowered to tackle emissions.
The speed limit on motorways will be cut to 60mph to reduce emissions in badly-polluted areas (stock image)
The new 60mph limit will be introduced across four stretches of road each up to 4.5 miles in length.
They will be the M6 between junctions 6 and 7 near Birmingham; the M5 between junctions 1 and 2 at Oldbury; the M1 between junctions 33 and 34 at Rotherham and the M602 between junctions 1 to three near Eccles.
Drivers will be faced with a £100 fine and three penalty points if they breach the new rules which will be in place for at least 12 to 15 months.
There is the possibility that they will remain for longer and could come into force elsewhere in the country should they prove to be successful.
Drivers will be faced with a £100 fine and three penalty points if they breach the new rules which will be in place for at least 12 to 15 months
Nearly 40,000 premature deaths every year are linked to poor air quality and the government are now hoping to tackle this by targeting nitrogen dioxide emissions from cars.
Initial assessments of the new reduced limit indicate an average of 17 per cent drop in air pollutants.
Head of Environment at Highways England, Ivan Le Fevre, told The Times: ‘Ultimately the air-quality challenge will be solved “at the tailpipe” by vehicle manufacturers and changes in vehicle use.
‘Until this happens we will continue our programme of research and solutions.’