Friday, April 3, 2015

Safety Charity Disagrees with Government and Road Haulage Community Over Speed Limits

Brake Criticises Changes so Warmly Welcomed by Freight Sector
Shipping News Feature

UK – The changes to Britain’s speed limits for HGV’s, which become law on 6 April, and which have been warmly welcomed by the road haulage community, have been sharply criticised by the road safety charity Brake. As announced by the government last year, speed limits in England and Wales for trucks over 7.5 tonnes will rise from 40mph to 50mph on single carriageways and from 50mph to 60mph on dual carriageways.

Brake issued a formal response to the government’s consultation which rejects the presumption that there are negative impacts of the current speed limit and concentrates on what it perceives as a change which will simply increase overall average speeds. It also however says the government has instituted these changes simply to legitimise the actions already being taken by the majority of truck drivers.

These conflicting arguments are contrary to the views of the majority of road freight professionals who point out that every year there are serious accidents caused by drivers, frustrated by the slower pace of lorries ahead, who overtake inappropriately in an attempt to increase their own overall speed. This type of misjudgement unfortunately results in deaths and horrendous injuries and the government presumably took this into account when calculating the new policy.

Brake however remains unmoved by this argument maintaining that higher average speeds are the key factor in accidents and stating the government position is incongruous, with Gary Rae, campaigns manager for Brake commenting:

“We are disappointed that the government has gone against the advice of road safety groups on this issue. The decision to increase HGV speed limits is short-sighted and runs against work to more effectively manage traffic speeds and reduce casualties on our roads. The relationship between speed and casualties is a proven one, so allowing the largest vehicles on our roads to reach higher speeds more often risks more deaths, serious injuries, and additional cost to the taxpayer.

“The government itself has admitted that this move will likely have no economic or road safety benefit. It is a move designed to legitimise the dangerous behaviour of those who already break the speed limit while putting the safety of the law-abiding majority second. It sets a dangerous precedent that if traffic laws are persistently flouted; the government would rather change them than enforce them.”