Thursday, July 24, 2014

Road Haulage Operators Welcome Change in Speed Limits to Assist Freight Interests

Faster Lorries Mean Less Frustration Hopefully Leading to Fewer Accidents
Shipping News Feature

UK – Players in the UK’s road haulage industry are celebrating this week as the Department for Transport has announced that the HGV national speed limit on single carriageway roads will increase from 40 mph to 50 mph, a decision greatly welcomed by all in the road freight industry and predicted by some to reduce accidents. According to DfT findings, hauliers across England and Wales could see more than an £11 million a year boost as the government also launches a 6 week consultation on plans to increase the speed limits for HGVs on dual carriageways from 50 mph to 60 mph.

This increase will be introduced via a change in the law to be put to Parliament during the next few months, with implementation scheduled for early 2015. The existing speed limit for heavy goods vehicles over 7.5 tonnes remains at 40 mph and will continue to be, until the change has been put into effect. The amended speed limit will cover single carriageway roads outside built up areas in England and Wales, unless specific lower local speed limits are in effect.

The newly promoted Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, Claire Perry, has announced the move as part of a package of measures to cut congestion, reduce dangerous overtaking and help get the country moving. In announcing the plans, Perry said:

“We 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. 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 20 mph 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.”

The change in speed limits for HGVs on single carriageways will bring England and Wales in line with other European road safety leaders, such as Denmark and Norway. Depending on the consultation responses, the increase for dual carriageways will come in at the same time. In welcoming the announcement Geoff Dunning, Chief Executive of the Road Haulage Association (RHA), said:

“This evidence-based decision by ministers, to increase the limit to 50 mph 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. We consider this announcement to be a real win for the RHA. We have lobbied long and hard on this issue and this positive outcome is a result of members’ input and support.”

The Freight Transportation Association (FTA) has also piped up voicing its support of what it sees as an improvement in road safety with the decision to reduce the 20 mph difference between HGVs and other road users. The FTA points out that it considers this decision is long overdue as technology has advanced considerably since the Sixties. Malcolm Bingham, FTA’s Head of Road Network Management Policy, said:

“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 40 mph and this can lead to frustration and on occasion risky overtaking.”

The Department for Transport is also urging English councils to use local powers issued last year to restrict traffic to 30, 40 or 50 mph where necessary because of pedestrian and cyclist use of roads, where the road is located and the layout. The department has also announced its intention to carry out a major study about rural road safety in the near future.

Other measures the government has introduced recently 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 says it 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.