UK to raise HGV speed limit on dual carriageways in 2015

The UK Government will raise the speed limit for heavy goods vehicles on dual carriageways as part of plans to modernise rules relating to freight traffic.

Claire Perry, the Transport Minister of the UK Government, announced plans last week to modernise the rules that govern the use of HGV equipment in the country. With speed limits for heavy goods vehicles already having been increased this year for single carriageway roads, the Government now intends to increase the limit for dual carriageways from 50mph (80kph) to 60mph (96kph).

The new speed limit will take effect from 6th April 2015 and has been justified by the minister as being more suited to modern transport networks and reflecting improved vehicle technology. By amending the speed limit for HGVs, speed differentials between large vehicles and other traffic is reduced and freight operators are not penalized by speed limits that are lower than those for similarly large vehicles. The last review of such limits took place three decades ago.

The Transport Minister emphasized that she is determined to ensure that Britain will continue to have one of the best road safety records in the world and will provide police with greater powers to fight irresponsible driving by both foreign and UK drivers of heavy goods vehicles. This includes measures against drivers who don’t take sufficient breaks during their working day.

Whilst the freight industry is supportive of the changes to the regulations, road safety charity, Brake, is less enthusiastic about increasing the speed of lorries on Britain’s roads.

Commenting on the Government plans, Brake’s Julie Townsend believes that the change represents a leap of faith by the Government despite the concerns of road safety groups and counters the work being done to manage road speeds and reduce casualties and emissions. Brake points out that since there is a proven correlation between increased speed and increased casualties, the decision to raise the speed limit for large vehicles is a risky one.

The road safety charity implies that the Government’s decision to change the speed limit is based on taking an easier option than increasing enforcement effort. Julie Townsend concluded, “Increasing the HGV speed limit on single and dual carriageways sets a dangerous precedent, sending a message that if traffic laws are persistently flouted, the government would rather change them than get tough with the law-breaking drivers putting everyone at risk.”

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