Road Safety News

HGV speed limit increase will increase deaths and injury

Friday 24th October 2014

The Government has pressed ahead with plans to raise the speed limit for lorries despite being warned of a likely increase in road deaths, according to the Telegraph.

In early 2015 the maximum speed for HGVs on single carriageway roads will rise from 40mph to 50mph under plans announced in July.

At the time, Baroness Kramer, transport minister said that the change will “modernise an antiquated restriction”. She also said the move will reduce speed differences between different types of traffic and cut dangerous overtaking.

The Telegraph article says “an internal impact assessment of the plans warned ministers that it would likely lead to an additional two to three fatal accidents and four to nine serious accidents per year, while saving the haulage industry more than £15m and raising an extra £2m for the Government in fuel duty”.

Susan Elan Jones, MP for Clwyd South, has urged ministers to reconsider. She told Parliament: “Many of us are very concerned about this proposal, when the minister’s own impact assessment makes it clear that is likely to increase deaths and serious injuries on our roads.”

In response, Claire Perry, transport minister, said the move could improve safety by reducing dangerous overtaking.

Ms Perry said: “We have assessed the deaths that might occur from the change, but we have also assessed the impact of not needing to overtake platooning lorries driving far below speed limits that already apply to other large vehicles such as coaches and caravans.”

The Telegraph says the Government’s impact assessment mentions the possibility of a reduction in collisions caused by risky overtaking, but adds that any “potential benefit has not been quantified because we do not have sufficient confidence that it would occur”.

Click here to read the full Telegraph article.


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Rod says:
'I would challenge Robert's assertion that it is government policy for HGV to be driven at the speed limit.'

Yet Baroness Kramer says 'the move will reduce speed differences between different types of traffic and cut dangerous overtaking'. Surely this will only happen if lorries are driven at or near the new speed limit. Rod also claims that any frustration of drivers is irrelevant. Such frustration sometimes results in dangerous overtaking and Claire Perry said the move could improve safety by reducing dangerous overtaking.

I could argue that lorry drivers driving well below the speed limit - even if their lorry is deliberately restricted to such speeds - could be fined for driving without due consideration for other road users.
Robert Bolt, St Albans

Agree (7) | Disagree (2)

Good to see that these 'mobile chicanes' on single carriageway roads will now travel at more 21st century speeds! HGVs going faster, tractors going faster, now what happened to raising the motorway speed limit to 80mph? I suppose we British are not as capable as most of our European cousins, except when we are on holiday there!
Terry Hudson, Kent

Agree (7) | Disagree (9)

It's a common misconception that the speed limit is the speed that drivers must somehow aspire to. It's a limit and certainly not Government policy to lure or encourage drivers to drive at the limit whenever possible. It would be wrong to assume that all motorists - including HGV drivers - see speed limits as a target.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (5) | Disagree (5)

One can understand why truck operators would adopt a slower than maximum speed in order to reduced fuel consumption. Speed is major factor in fuel consumption. See the attached article from Bridgestone :-

I would challenge Robert's assertion that it is government policy for HGV to be driven at the speed limit. Any "frustration" of drivers who may not want to take such fuel efficient actions is irrelevent. Oil is one of our most expensive imports and where truck operators choose to work their trucks in a fuel efficient manner as possible then surely this should be encouraged.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (6) | Disagree (4)

The fact that a large number of LGV drivers already ignore the current 40 mph limit on single carriageway roads is no argument in favour of raising it. Let's face it, plenty of people commit burglary, but I have never seen anybody suggest that we decriminalise the offence. There may be other arguments in favour of the move, but popularity of breaking the law is most definitely not a valid reason.
David, Suffolk

Agree (11) | Disagree (13)

On the one hand the government is increasing the limit in order to reduce differentials. On the other hand some transport operators, particularly supermarkets are limiting their vehicles to speeds below the limits, thus creating a bigger differential. I have seen supermarket lorries limited to 50 on motorways and light delivery vans limited to 55. This works in conflict with government policy and is likely to cause more accidents because of driver's frustration at being stuck behind slow vehicles.
Robert Bolt, St Albans

Agree (9) | Disagree (5)

I agree with Paul. Many HGVs do in fact totally disregard the 40 mph speed limit and it is for that reason that it is being altered to 50 mph. On my travels if I on my bike or car slowed to 40 mph on a 50mph limited road I will maybe attempt an overtake. If, however, the HGV is doing the limit ie 50 mph I will not attempt an overtake and be content staying a safe distance behind. That will make the situation safer. That said, I may still overtake if it's doing 50 in a 60 mph area should it be safe to do so.
bob craven Lancs

Agree (23) | Disagree (4)

Who performed the "internal impact assessment" and what methodology did they use? More importantly, how will the effect of the HGV speed limit change be assessed?

I predict that, after the change, those who oppose the change will select the data that suggests it was a failure while those who support will simply select or interpret the data to show the opposite. This experiment, as with many in which peoples lives are at stake, is important to try but a robust method (preferably scientific) to measure success or failure needs to be integral to the experiment.
Dave Finney, Slough

Agree (22) | Disagree (3)

No need for alarm over a 10mph rise in a speed limit - if there is any effect it is more likely that casualties will fall rather than rise. As has been pointed out elsewhere before - most HGVs are probably already exceeding 40mph.
Paul Biggs, Staffordshire

Agree (24) | Disagree (9)