Haulage speed limit change will cause more deaths but will benefit the transport and logistics industry

29/10/2014

The Government has pushed on with plans to increase the speed limit for heavy goods vehicles despite being warned of a likely rise in road deaths because of the benefits to UK Haulage and the transport and logistics industry.

In early 2015, the maximum speeds for HGVs on single track roads will increase from 40mph to 50mph under July’s announcements, in a plan intended to save money for hauliers and transport companies and to also reduce dangerous overtaking.

However, an internal impact assessment of the plans warned ministers in January that it would likely lead to an additional two to three fatal accidents and four to nine serious accidents per year, while reducing costs in the transport and logistics industry by more than £15 million and raising an extra £2 million for the Government in fuel duty.

Susan Elan Jones, MP for Clwyd South, criticised the Government’s plans and urged ministers to reconsider. She said:

“Many of us are very concerned about this proposal,” she said. “The plan is to raise HGV speed limits on single carriageways, when the minister’s own impact assessment makes it clear that is likely to increase deaths and serious injuries on our roads.”

The current speed limits for haulage vehicles were introduced almost 50 years ago and need to be updated in relation to improved vehicle technology.

Claire Perry, the Transport Minister, replied to criticism by saying that plans could make the roads safer by reducing the need for drivers to overtake lorries, and that haulage firms “really welcome” the changes.

She 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,” she said.

deaths per year, although the increase could be as high as 3.9mph, resulting in 3.5 more deaths.

Ministers are also currently considering whether to raise the HGV speed limit on dual carriageways from 50mph to 60mph, with a decision due later this year.

Mary Creagh MP, the Shadow Transport Secretary, said:

“The government has pledged to review the safety of rural roads, but these higher speed limits will make them much less safe for pedestrians and cyclists. Ministers need to bring forward evidence before pushing ahead with these potentially dangerous speed increases.”

A Department for Transport spokesman said:

“Road safety is a key priority and we studied both the potential for increased risk and for improved safety due to less risky overtaking before making our decision. We are determined to improve safety – for instance, by encouraging local authorities to lower speed limits on roads where needed, better procedures to deal with HGV drivers who drive tired, and bringing in a new offence of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.”

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