Road Safety News

Speed limit for HGVs to increase

Thursday 24th July 2014

The Government is proposing to increase the national speed limit for heavy goods vehicles of more than 7.5 tonnes on single carriageways from 40mph to 50mph.

The announcement was made, following a public consultation, in a written statement to Parliament by Baroness Kramer, transport minister. A change in the law will be put to Parliament during the next few months, with implementation scheduled for early 2015.

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 Government has also announced the start of a six-week consultation (closing 5 September) to seek views and evidence about increasing the national speed limit for HGVs on dual carriageways from 50 mph to 60 mph, with a view to implementing this at the same time.

Baroness Kramer’s statement says that the change will “modernise an antiquated restriction which is not matched in most other European countries”.

The statement includes the following: “The current speed limit just does not work – it is broken by about three quarters of HGV drivers at any particular time when they are not constrained by other traffic or the road layout. It is implausible that it could readily be made to work without a disproportionate effort.

“This package (of measures) will remove a 20 mph differential between the lorry and car speed limits on single carriageway roads, cutting dangerous overtaking and bringing permitted lorry speeds into line with other large vehicles like coaches and caravans.

“The Government is determined that any potential risks higher speeds bring will be managed effectively. This change will reduce speed differences between different types of traffic which is likely to reduce risks.

“We will be supporting the speed limit increase by promoting the advice we updated last year to highway authorities about local speed limits.

“Local authorities can restrict all traffic to 30, 40 or 50 mph where this is needed because of the use of roads by pedestrians and cyclists, settlements on roads, high air pollution or safety risks.”

The move has been welcomed by Geoff Dunning, from the Road Haulage Association, who 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“The current limit is long out of date and the frustration it generates causes unnecessary road safety risks.”

The DfT has also announced that it intends to carry out a “major study about rural road safety”.


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Now hgv's have their speed upped, when are we going to see van limits increased as most transit type vans have better handling and braking than a lot of cars, 60 on a dual carriageway is a joke.
dave exeter

Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

As a HGV driver I see drivers every day endangering themselves and other people with idiotic driving. When you drive at 40mph the % of car driver/ vans etc will be hell bent on overtaking you! Drive at 50 mph and 75% of the people would try and overtake, at 40mph will stay behind you and be happy.
Richard Henry , Sleaford , lincs

Agree (3) | Disagree (3)

I am constantly hounded by other hgvs if I drive at 50 on an A road, so if the limit is 50 not 40mph, many drivers are going to assume that it's safe to do 56mph. I am sceptical.
Stu. Harrogate

Agree (3) | Disagree (8)

No Rod, UKIP are not a party for "speedophiles" just those that might support a bit of personal freedom! What speed is a 'safe' speed, you tell us that and I will be quite happy to drive at that speed! Can you state that if I drive at 20mph in a 20mph zone or 30mph in a 30mph zone etc, I will not hit anything? Prevailing conditions dictate what is a 'safe' speed, so why is road safety now come down to mean just more stricter rules and harsher punishments?
Terry Hudson. Kent

Agree (3) | Disagree (3)

I recently drove 400 miles up to Scotland and many of the HGVs on A and B roads were in fact well over the speed limit. Some up to the vehicular limit and only slowed by the restrictor fitted. Many of these roads actually had signage out warning HGVs of the 40 mph limit. They took not a bit of notice.
bob craven Lancs

Agree (6) | Disagree (3)

Yes, it certainly looks like UKIP is the party for speedophiles.

My experience tells me that frustrated/angry drivers are usually just frustrated/angry people who simply hate having something else (even a 40ton truck) effecting what they can do. I suspect they will be just as frustrated behind a 50mph truck as a 40mph truck, but will have less space and time to overtake.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (5) | Disagree (12)

Excellent news, but they have 'pinched' the idea from UKIP! Any increase in speeds for these 'mobile chicanes' is good news and getting more vehicles travelling at similar speeds is going to be safer. Being stuck behind a large vehicle trundling along at 40mph on a 60mph road does make for frustrated drivers and frustrated/angry drivers do not make better drivers!

Air suspensions, ABS, better brakes etc have made the previous limits totally redundant. Drivers are just delivering the goods and services we all demand, let them get on with the job without the added fear of being prosecuted for infringing pointless, out-dated speed limits.
Terry Hudson

Agree (22) | Disagree (6)

If the government does raise HGV limits on both single and dual carriageways as is proposed then certain vehicle operators, e.g. some well known supermarkets, who restrict their vehicles to 50 will have to change their attitude.
Bobbio, Chiswell Green

Agree (12) | Disagree (6)

If one reads Baroness Kramer's statement then it specifically states "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."

And then it takes care to also reference the "encouragement to English local authorities to take up the flexibility and policies contained in the speed limit circular issued last year related to local 40 mph speed limits in particular".

This really does impose a huge responsibility on Traffic Authorities to decide these exceptions where a 50mph limit is not a safe speed for HGVs.

It would seem that the government wishes to take the credit for increasing speed limits yet passes all the costs of deciding the exceptions to local traffic authorities.

It would be interesting to hear from Traffic Authority professionals as to how they can ensure that all single carriageway roads outside built-up areas will have their speed limit reviewed before the change comes into law.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (8) | Disagree (6)

Would it be better, if anything, if the speed limit was raised not on 'single carriageways' on country roads but on arterial main roads, those being any A class road.

Much has been said on this thread and also the response from Brake about country roads and the change does infer every road in the country that is single carriageway which could be many unclassified roads and B roads of reduced width. It would be more sensible to increase the number of main A roads only in order to accommodate this change.
Bob Craven Lancs

Agree (8) | Disagree (4)

Coincidentally, Panorama this week did a feature on the dangerous antics of some HGV drivers - eating/drinking at the wheel; reading; on the 'phone etc. I wonder if per chance they are the ones who are also exceding their speed limit? Perhaps if as much as three quarters of drivers did this sort of thing behind the wheel, that would have to become legal as well!
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (6) | Disagree (7)

If the national speed limit becomes 50mph for HGVs then surely this will mean that every traffic authority will need to consider whether it is safe and appropriate for roads to stay "unrestricted" if this endorses HGVs travelling at 50mph.

If they do not consider a 50mph limit for HGVs appropriate then surely their only recourse will be to set a 40mph limit for all vehicles under a Traffic Regulation Order. This will be because (as I understand it) there is no ability to differentiate between classes of vehicle in a TRO.

I know that there are many villages around the country on unrestricted roads where residents will be appalled at a 25% increase in the legal speed of 40 ton vehicles through their village.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (25) | Disagree (11)

A stated aim of the single carriageway increase is to reduce risks involved with the number of car drivers seeking to overtake the much slower HGVs. Understandable, but I think we can assume a) the net speed of HGVs will increase, and b) a proportion of car drivers will still seek to overtake. If true, a smaller number of overtaking vehicles will be taking larger risks because the higher speed of the HGVs will mean they have to stay on the "wrong" side of the road for a longer distance and time when overtaking. There is scope for this change to increase as well as decrease the number and severity of collisions. I hope its effects will be carefully monitored.
Tim Philpot, Wolverhampton

Agree (23) | Disagree (1)

How does anyone actually know for sure that three quarters of HGV drivers break their limit? Perhaps it isn't anywhere near three-quarters - hope it wasn't a questionnaire! Even if it were true, perhaps the explanation is simply that they're not as law-abiding or as dilligent as the (reputedly) quarter who seem to be able to manage it.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (11) | Disagree (0)

The statement: “The current speed limit ... is broken by about three quarters of HGV drivers” suggests that the government might be reverting to something like the 85%ile. for this particular road user group at least.

There are good reasons to believe reverting to the 85%ile might improve road safety. Most HGV drivers are probably very safe and responsible people and the person best placed to determine the safest speed in any instance is the driver in the vehicle at that point.

But how will the effect of this speed limit increase on safety be separated from the myriad of other factors? Where is the control group? If crashes go up, will that be because of more HGVs after an economic recovery or because of the speed limit? If crashes go down, will that be because of better HGV safety features (like mirrors to see cyclists) or the speed limit?
Dave Finney, Slough

Agree (11) | Disagree (7)

Might as well, as stated and to my own knowledge and observations they do not restrict themselves to 40 mph. I would rather them do 50 in a 50 than put myself into a possible dangerous position overtaking them.
bob craven Lancs

Agree (22) | Disagree (1)