Wednesday, June 26, 2019

HGV Drivers Welcome Speed Limit Increases for Lorries as Transport Report Released

Changes Appear to Have Had Desired Positive Effect
Shipping News Feature
UK – A change in lorry speed limits has saved businesses millions of pounds a year and could have helped improve road safety, according to a report from the Department for Transport (DfT), which has analysed the effect of increasing speed limits for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) in England and Wales.

In April 2015, new national speed limits came into force for HGVs over 7.5 tonnes on single carriageway and dual carriageway roads in England and Wales. The new limits are 50 mph (up from 40 mph) and 60 mph (up from 50 mph), respectively. In October 2015 the DfT commissioned a three year evaluation of the speed limit change with the primary aims of generating the evidence needed to support future policy decisions and validate the initial impact assessment for the increase.

This report shows that allowing HGVs to travel 10 mph faster, bringing them closer to the speed of other traffic, has contributed to an increase of 1.5 mph in average speeds on single carriageway roads, and 0.4 mph on dual carriageways.

17% of HGVs exceeded the 50 mph speed limit for this vehicle type on 60 mph single carriageway roads, where prior to the HGV speed limit increase this figure was 9%. The proportion of HGVs speeding has decreased by 68% since the policy change. On dual carriageways, 6% of HGVs exceeded the 60 mph speed limit for this vehicle type, where prior to the HGV speed limit increase, 5% of HGVs exceeded 60 mph. The proportion of HGVs speeding has decreased by 74% since the policy change.

An increase of just 1 mph would free up 650,000 driver hours and save hauliers more than £10 million a year. This report states that there is a possible ‘statistically significant’ improvement to road safety on the roads subject to the change in speed limit. Roads Minister Michael Ellis said:

“I am pleased to see the improvement in safety while helping to unlock the UK’s potential – encouraging growth and enhancing productivity. Increasing the speed limit for lorries has helped companies save time and money, enabling them to re-invest this in their business and buying newer and greener vehicles. This move has also potentially improved road safety as it appears to have reduced the risks some drivers take when overtaking slow-moving vehicles.”

When we set out the case for and against the speed limit changes back in April 2015 the road safety charity, Brake, came out strongly to criticise the move. Speaking to road haulage operators we found a common point of view, perfectly set out in this quotation from a regular long distance heavy goods vehicle driver:

”If you are limited to one speed in a truck on a single carriageway road while car drivers are allowed to go faster you will inevitably find their frustration will cause one or more to try and pass, often when the move isn’t practical. I am sure that the change has had a positive effect with less foolish behaviour and presumably a reduction in head on accidents and the like.”

Photo: Image courtesy of Cornwall Live.