On 6th April the new speed limits for lorries were introduced and whilst they were welcomed for the most part by the truck drivers and their companies, safety organisations feel differently. The new speed limits relate to vehicles over 7.5 tonnes and are relevant to both single and dual carriageways.
The new regulations will allow HGVs carrying loads of 7.5 tonnes to drive at 50mph rather than 40mph on single carriageways and 60mph rather than 50mph on dual carriageways. In support of the measures a spokesperson for the Freight Transport Association highlighted that risky overtaking by other drivers, at the old speeds, often resulted in casualties and that the new speeds will allow the industry to use the new speeds where necessary and improve running cost benefits and limit these risky overtaking situations. The Freight Transport Association also highlighted that the former speed limits were introduced in the 1960s and therefore well overdue for review and with advances in technology there is no reason these speeds can’t be effective as well as safe. The AA also shared their thoughts, with the hope that the frustration drivers feel when trapped behind HGVs on single carriage roads will decrease, again removing the chance of risky manoeuvres.
Safety Charities Worried by New Speeds
Although there are plenty of people in support of the new speed limits, many road safety campaigners are in opposition. Brake has voiced their view, highlighting and reiterating their concern about the speed increases. They shared their disappointment clearly and highlighted that even the government had admitted the move may not have an economic or safety benefit and Brake began condemning plans for the move as early as mid-2014 yet the change has still come to fruition.
The basic issues that Brake see is that any speed limit increase can be dangerous, especially when it relates to vehicles with such large loads and weight behind them. Vehicles travelling faster take longer to slow down and therefore reactions to hazards may take longer to result in an emergency stop or slowing down as needed. They also argue that there is no evidence behind the suggestions that the change in speed will actually have an impact on the overtaking issue.
The number of accidents on an annual basis which involve HGVs is considered high compared to other types of vehicles and whether this speed limit change will effect this is something we can only wait and see but it’s clear both those in support and against the move will be keeping close tabs on the stats.