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Speed limit raised for HGVs

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The Government is raising the speed limit for lorries on single carriageway roads to 50mph.

Transport minister Claire Perry has announced the move as part of a package of measures aimed at cutting congestion and reducing dangerous overtaking.

HGVs over 7.5 tonnes currently have an upper limit of 40mph on single carriageway roads - a speed limit set in the 1960s and at odds with other large vehicles on our roads, says the Department for Transport (DfT).

The Government has also launched a six-week consultation on plans to increase the speed limits for HGVs on dual carriageways from 50mph to 60mph.

Perry said: "We're 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.

"Britain has one of the world's best road safety records and yet speed limits for lorries have been stuck in the 1960s. This change will remove a 20mph difference between lorry and car speed limits, cutting dangerous overtaking and bringing permitted lorry speeds into line with other large vehicles like coaches and caravans.

“Current speed limits for HGVs were introduced around 50 years ago and need to be updated given improved vehicle technology."

Geoff Dunning, from the Road Haulage Association, said: "This evidence-based decision by ministers, 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 The current limit is long out-of-date and the frustration it generates causes unnecessary road safety risks."

The change in speed limits for HGVs on single carriageways will come into force in early 2015 and will bring England and Wales in line with other European countries, such as Denmark and Norway.

Depending on the consultation responses, the increase for dual carriageways will come in at the same time. The existing limits continue to apply until the change has been put into effect.

The move was welcomed by the RAC and the Freight Transport Association (FTA).

RAC spokesman Pete Williams said: “While it may seem counterintuitive on the face of it to suggest higher speeds create safer roads, there is good evidence from trials in Europe to support the idea that raising speed limits on some roads has helped to reduce accident rates.

“A two-year trial in Denmark has seen speed limits on some rural roads increased from 80km/h (50mph) to 90km/h (56mph). Results there showed that some slower drivers raised their speed slightly, while faster drivers slowed down.

“Although average speeds on the roads remained almost the same, the smaller difference between faster and slower traffic resulted in fewer collisions and fewer deaths, according to police findings.

“They said the move has helped reduce frustration among faster drivers, and stopped them from performing dangerous overtaking manoeuvres.

“The Danish study may well prove to be ground-breaking in years to come but what's needed now are more studies to establish whether this reduction occurs in all instances.”

Malcolm Bingham, FTA’s head of road network management policy, added: “The 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. 

“Many motorists do not understand that the limit for lorries is only 40mph and this can lead to frustration and on occasion risky overtaking.” 

However, Brake, the road safety charity, has expressed serious concerns about plans.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive for Brake, the road safety charity, said: "We are disappointed and concerned by this announcement. 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, which should be addressed through other means.

“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 minister says she wants to get the country moving, but we ask at what cost to road users and the environment?

"Our own survey has just revealed the worrying extent of dangerous fast driving on country roads. We should be taking steps to address this, through driver education, lower speed limits and better enforcement.

“We are concerned for rural communities already blighted by fast traffic and for those who want to safely enjoy the countryside on foot, bike or horseback. This threatens to make these problems worse."

The DfT is also urging English councils to use local powers issued last year to restrict traffic to 30, 40 or 50mph where necessary because of pedestrian and cyclist use of roads, where the road is located and the layout.

The Department has also announced today the intention to carry out a major study about rural road safety in the near future.

Other measures the Government has introduced to boost the haulage industry include the HGV road user levy, which ensures foreign hauliers operating in the UK pay towards the upkeep of UK roads.

The Government has also ensured duty on standard diesel is lower than it was in October 2010 and has made no increase to HGV duty.

The Government is also investing £3.3 billion in major road schemes which will provide over 500 miles of additional lane capacity to the strategic road network and £10.7 billion to add at least 400 miles of capacity on the busiest motorways.

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  • David - 25/07/2014 11:08

    As HGV's are governed to 56mph it's no good increasing speed limits on dual carriageways to 60mph. It would make more sence to have the speed limit for all trucks on all roads at 56mph then there would be less congestion and less requirement for cars to overtake. Then local lower limits can be set for all vehicles as required. It's again clear that the transport department are out of touch with things if they are not aware of the governed speed on all UK trucks!

  • Edward handley - 25/07/2014 11:26

    This is a sensible move and will make the roads safer, despite the predictable complaint from Brake. 40 mph is far too slow on good quality single carriageway A roads and trucks that stick to the limit rapidly collect a long queue of irate drivers. It is illogical to restrict trained HGV drivers to 40 when so many drivers with grandfather's rights C1 (7.5 tonne) licences are allowed to do 50. Raising the limit on all purpose trunk road dual carriageways to 60 is a more contentious move, especially as trucks are limited to 56 mph, because the safety benefit is much smaller: Frustrated drivers overtaking badly on single carriageways are a menace where as even short sections of dual carriageway permit those same frustrated drivers to overtake safely. Increasing truck speeds on them increases the time it takes to overtake and may reduce the number of vehicles who can get past the trucks that have been holding them up, particularly if a truck limited to 56 following a supermarket truck restricted to 54 decides to overtake and blocks lane 2 for the next couple of miles! Perhaps the best move would be to keep the same 50 limit for HGVs (7.5t +) and to reduce the limit for LGVs (3.5 - 7.5t ) to 50 as well so all larger vehicles had the same speed limit. Reducing the speed limit for large vans (2000 - 3500 kg) to 50 on dual carriageways might also have environmental and safety benefits but no doubt would raise a massive howl of protest from drivers and operators. The one issue which is not clear at this stage is whether the 50 limit will apply to all dual carriageways, or just the All Purpose Trunk Road network dual carriageways maintained by the Highways Agency. If it is just the HA APTRs, just how is a truck driver expected to know who maintains the road? Yes, there are some HA signs proudly proclaiming that it is their road, but they were never designed as speed limit indicators and there are no repeaters and nothing to indicate the point where the road reverts to the local authority and the speed limit might fall. This will need careful consideration.

  • Joe Whittaker TRAVELSAFE - 25/07/2014 11:46

    Seems perverse given thet EU limit is still 80kph and we will now see LGV's travelling close to 70 mph as exisitng speed limits are exceeded more than they are adhered to.

    • murray - 26/12/2014 09:11

      @Joe Whittaker TRAVELSAFE - 70 mph most hgv 's are limited to 53 mph so as to save on fuel costs so saying 70 mph is crap

  • Jim. C. - 30/07/2014 09:19

    The increase from 40 MPH to 50 MPH will make a difference to for HGV drivers as you do sometimes get irrate drivers stuck behind a vehicle that is supposed to stick to the present speed limit for HGV's. Let us not forget though that you should drive your vehicle to the road conditions. You cannot drive fast along narrow country lanes because of the many hazards you can encounter on such roads.

  • Edward Handley - 30/07/2014 19:40

    In response to Joe W's comment: Most trucks are fitted with speed limiters set for 90 kph/56 mph so you will only encounter heavy trucks (currently limited to 40 mph) doing close to 70" if they have disabled the limiter, which is a very serious offence. 3500 to 7500 kg LGVs are currently limited to 50 on ordinary roads, 60 on dual carriageways and 70 on motorways so the proposed change for HGVs (7500 kg +) will make no difference. Jim C: I have to agree with you - all speed limits are legal maximums, not targets, and any professional driver should be capable of regulating his speed so it is appropriate for the road conditions.

  • John Shaw - 14/08/2014 20:39

    Increasing to 50mph on good quality 'A'; class roads on face value makes good sense. However it is evident that many HGV drivers are already treating this as 'pedal to the metal' and 56-58mph 44 tonners are blasting along unsuitable single carriage roads, often aggressively and hustling slower vehicles by tailgating them. My van has a 50 mph limit on these roads, and I find it very intimidating to have HGVs just a few metres from my rear bumper, trying to squeeze past in impossible places. I think we need to grade single carriageway roads - maybe 'trunk roads' will be OK - but to class all single carriageway roads as 50mph (in effect 56-58mph!) for HGVs will surely end in tears.

  • Les Johnston - 22/08/2014 10:07

    Further to my recent comments, Elephants and sledges would also satisfy the labour party and everyone else who would like to see more cargo carried on the railways,It would be a lot fairer competition as delivery times would more or less be exactly on par with one another meaning a much greater choice for fresh produce suppliers.

  • Les Johnston - 22/08/2014 10:26

    As the D O T most recent proposal is slower is faster ,I cite the M4 London as an example ,then why not revert to elephants and sledges as this would seem to accommodate all sides of the proposal. Cyclist would benefit ,{no dangerous overtaking manoeuvres and plenty of open road} The Greens {no pollution from dirty diesel engines or damaged road surfaces bridges etc.} Hauliers, {no expensive diesel costs or unworkable delivery times}. HGV drivers {no more obscene hand gestures or related death threats,again no more unworkable delivery times} and last but not least the European parliament who seem quite determined to do anything they can to destroy the UK infrastructure and have foreign vehicles only on British roads.

  • Pat Walsh - 22/08/2014 20:02

    Would it not be possible or reasonable to resurrect the man with a stick and lantern walking in front of vehicles on all A class trunk roads.Surely such a measure would satisfy all sides in the debate, IE slowing traffic , making life much better for the horse and cycle rider ,satisfying the DOT slower is faster policy , and saving diesel for haulage companys.Or another idea would be to park up all lgv vehicles between say 7AM and 9AM ,4PM and 6PM to allow all other road users to do whatever they have to do and then they could continue on there merry way undisrupted by the rest of the population.Would it not be reasonable to think these proposals have such relevance in todays NIMBY society , or would it stop honest hard working folk getting their milk for the natural wholesome morning breakfast.as more or less everything would either be late or not arrive at all.

  • Alex Mckie - 29/08/2014 08:23

    Most HGV drivers don't know it's 40 mph or choose to ignore it.... Payed by the load is not the safest way!!

    • Les Johnston - 29/08/2014 22:34

      @Alex Mckie -

    • Les Johnston - 29/08/2014 22:41

      @.AAlex Mckie - How would one suggest payment be made. By the grain ,pallet,mile ,bowl full.In the end it is the consumer who foots the bill,so how do you suggest haulage companies charge,and how much are you prepared to pay

  • Lee McGrogan - 22/09/2014 17:44

    Does this apply to Scotland as well?

  • Patrick Armstrong - 07/11/2014 21:08

    Anyone like to explain to me how changing a law that has been disregarded by the majority of hgv drivers and their boses is going to assist the economy.But it is certainly a slap in the face for the minority of hgv drivers who did stick to the rules much to the annoyance of their employers

    • Driver - 01/04/2015 21:15

      I guess you speak without experience! I would guess at over 80% of English trucks are now tracked and data collated,down to when the doors open. If you think most companies are ignoring law breaking drivers your very much mistaken. The reality is you have it to answer to,and reoccurring offences can lead to the door. So lets take a 40mph single road. With a load you will increase your speed on desent of even the slightest of hills,so to stop yourself going over and end up in the office what do you do? You set the cruise at 36mph in hope that any run on doesn't take you over.Some trucks will apply the brakes and control your speed,but they generally allow 3 mph before they take action. Then you come to a hill at 36 mph and of course you don't have the momentum to climb it so you drop to 30 or below.now consider the traffic behind you is entitled to do 60 mph and you can see why there are some many drivers who are ending up in head on accidents taking risks to get by. Believe me the rise in speed limits is a good thing for everyone but the HGV driver.Not only will fewer drivers be needed,but HGV drivers will always be the enemy of the self Righteous ill informed drivers no matter what they do!

  • Mick Bennett - 09/11/2014 05:16

    I've been driving HGVs for 47 years and the lorries of today are unbelievably far safer than the death traps which we used to drive in the sixties. Drivers I work with have been stopped by the police when sticking to the 40mph speed limit and told to either speed up or park up because they are causing a hazard by doing so. The new limits are years overdue.

  • Mr Brian Crouch - 20/11/2014 13:02

    I gbink ghat due to the improvement in all eehicles I tbink tbis is a step in the rigbt direction.

  • richard clark - 27/12/2014 19:39

    i think this change is long over due and will be far safer for all road users

  • alan - 21/02/2015 07:21

    Could you please tell me when the 50mph comes into force! What date.......

    • Barnsley John - 05/03/2015 11:18

      @alan - i'd like to know as well as my company speed monitor me constantly

    • Steve - 04/04/2015 23:00

      this all comes into force on Monday May 6th 2015 @00.01 i also think its a bad idea if your paid by the hour

  • jimmy sturdy - 22/02/2015 15:49

    I as a truck driver of 40 years think the raised speed limits is a bad idea . Most truck drivers already go over 40 mph on these roads but I think the majority will only do in when the road is clear an safe to do so. I feel drivers will now raise their speed to meet tighter delivery times thus putting pressure on them. I can see the point of higher limits on motorways that is those with 3 lanes and a hard shoulder as for duel carriageways they should be let as they are. A better solution would be to get rid of motor way status then lower speed limits for trucks to 55 then used the hard shoulder as a lane, make the outside lane narrow as trucks can not use it anyway this will make more road space

  • mr mayO - 22/02/2015 20:21

    As a hgv driver, I think it's silly putting the speed up for lorry's because some driver's already speed,so they will go even faster,the thing's I see on the road is frightening,be it car driver's or lorry drivers ,how some of them obtain a liecense make's me wonder?

  • Mr mayo - 22/02/2015 21:09

    Stop companies forcing driver to drive faster to meet dead lines, it' better to be five minute's late in this world than five minute's eary in the next world I.e dead and driver should be paid a salary wage because as soon as they put the key in the ignition, they just go as fast as pos to finish,the driver paid by the hour is a saver driver because he get paid more money for driving slower and saver and get home ,it's not all about putting money bosses pocket's.

  • Matthew - 06/03/2015 17:13

    Just read this today http://www.returnloads.net/news/60mph-speed-limit-across-uk/ that they want to reduce the speed limit on motorways and dual carriageways to 60mph for EVERYONE

  • s cartledge - 14/03/2015 22:03

    I have found that if you travel at 40mph in my lorry the car drivers are very impatient but you then increase your speed up to 50mph they then have a greater tendency to stay behind so that is the reason why I am all for the speed increase as it is safer for everyone

  • russell - 30/03/2015 03:36

    does this mean we will no longer see tesco trucks doing 50 on motorway and causing other hgv to pull out and over take there by moving into lane 2 and making cars pull out into lane 3 please tell tesco drivers to drive at the pemitted speed for hgv on motorway

    • Tony Dixon - 01/04/2015 19:59

      Russell - maximum speed of lorries is limited by law to 90kph, by the fitting of speed limiters. Some fleet operators (notably supermarkets) voluntarily have their lorries' limiters set to a lower speed (85kph or even less). This is done to save on fuel costs and reduce emissions. It is unfair on lorry drivers to blame them for their employers' speed limiter policies.

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