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HGV speed limit increase approved by many in the industry

29 July 2014 #News #Top Stories

The road transport sector has shown its support for the government’s plan to increase the speed limit on single carriageways from 40mph to 50mph, a move that is set to boost the haulage sector by £11 million a year.

The decision taken by Transport Minister Claire Perry and the Department for Transport (DfT), after six weeks of consultation, sees the speed limits for trucks over 7.5 tonnes amended for the first time since the 1960s.

Perry said that with advances in vehicle technology and an improvement in road safety, using 50-year-old speed limits for HGVs is causing motorists to undertake risky manoeuvres due to the 20 mph difference between trucks and cars.

“We’re are doing all we can to get Britain moving and boost growth. This change will do exactly that and save our haulage industry £11 million a year.”

The upping of speed limits for HGVs on both single and dual carriageways, from 50mph to 60mph, will see haulage firms able to travel at the same speed as other heavy vehicles, including coaches.

Truck manufacturer Volvo has shown its support to the government’s plans to introduce the new speed limits in April 2015, by stating that the increases could improve road safety and also have benefits for the environment.

Arne Knaben, Managing Director for Volvo Trucks, said, “It is good news for road safety as it should keep traffic flowing more smoothly. Modern trucks have fast reacting disc brakes and EBS. I believe that the safety technology that is built into the latest trucks provides a counter argument that the increased road speed could adversely affect safety.”

He added that the increased speeds will also have both environmental and operational benefits, as there is the potential to save fuel, which cuts down on the amount of emissions produced.

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) and the Freight Transport Association (FTA) have also supported this decision, as they believe it will be beneficial to the industry and road safety.

Geoff Dunning, Chief Executive at the RHA, said, “This evidence-based decision to increase the limit to 50mph will be strongly welcomed by hauliers and their drivers. The current limit is long out-of-date and the frustration it generates causes unnecessary road safety risk.”

The FTA’s Malcolm Bingham, Head of Road Network Management Policy, added that this decision will also help motorists who may be unaware why HGVs travel slowly on the roads.

“FTA strongly supports this decision as we believe there is evidence confirming that road safety will be improved if the differential between HGVs and other road users is reduced and will save time for hauliers, resulting in economic benefits,” he added.

However, the decision to increase the speed limits for trucks was not met by enthusiasm by all parties, as road safety charity Brake opposes the proposals from the government.

Julie Townsend, Deputy Chief Executive for Brake, said, “Put simply, when vehicles travel faster, it takes them longer to stop, increasing risk. It is very well evidenced that increases in speed equal increases in crashes and casualties.

“At the same time, the road safety justification for this move is dubious: we are not aware of evidence it will help tackle risky overtaking. Pronounced speed differences between traffic can pose a risk, but the way to address this is by preventing car drivers going too fast, not speeding trucks up.”

The National Cycling Charity has also voiced its disapproval over the plans to increase the HGVs speed on rural route, claiming that this decision will jeopardise vulnerable cyclists on the roads.

Chris Peck, CTC Senior Campaign Manager, said, “If the government is serious about enabling and encouraging more people to take up cycling both for transport and for leisure, it has to take steps to improve cyclists’ safety.”

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