DfT report suggests no adverse impact to raising HGV speed limits

George Barrow
November 8, 2016


The RHA has welcomed the DfT’s first-year evaluation report findings on the HGV speed limit increases for England and Wales that came into effect last year.

Under the changes the single carriageway speed limit for vehicles over 7.5 tonnes rose from 40mph to 50mph from April last year. Dual carriageway limits increased from 50mph to 60mph at the same point.

The DfT has found that awareness amongst professional drivers of the changes is high, although this is not the case amongst the general public.

With a year's data it is too soon to make a firm conclusion but the department said that there is nothing to indicate that increasing the limits has generated more accidents.

RHA director of policy Jack Semple said: “The study still has some time to run, and early data should be treated with caution. 

"However early results have not identified negative road safety impacts. Indeed the research so far confirms the industry view that modestly raising the speed limit would both improve road safety and operating efficiency.”

“There have also been clear benefits in terms of increased compliance and a reduction on the pressure on drivers and operators to stay within what were unrealistic speed limits. In addition we can reasonably assume a reduced frustration for car drivers caused by HGVs moving at unreasonably slow speeds,” he said.

Key findings, year one

Research found that all HGV drivers consulted were aware of the speed limit changes on single carriageways, but not all were aware of the changes on dual carriageways.

Conversely, 25% of non-HGV drivers were aware of the changes. There was also a very low level of awareness among residents living adjacent to roads affected by the speed limit changes.

The initial analysis of traffic speeds and flows found that: speeds for HGVs over 7.5 tonnes on single carriageway roads had increased between 2014 and 2015 by more than 1 mph, on average, across a range of flow conditions the equivalent figure for dual carriageways was an increase of less than 0.5 mph

The initial analysis of safety data between 2005 and 2015 identified that: historically, up to 17% of all reported collisions in England and Wales have taken place on single (50 mph and 60 mph speed limit) and dual carriageway (60 mph and 70 mph speed limit) roads.

7.6% of the total collisions on these roads were reported to involve HGVs prior to the introduction of the new speed limits, although there had already been a trend of collisions reducing on these roads. However, the rate of reduction had slowed in recent years.

In the period following the introduction of the new speed limits there is preliminary evidence of a reduction in HGV collisions estimated to be between 10% and 36% said the DfT, however it is not possible to attribute this directly to the speed limit changes.

About the Author


George Barrow

George Barrow has been writing about nearly anything with wheels for the past 15 years, starting off his career in the car industry and ending up in commercial vehicles via a brief detour to cover technology, science and start-ups. Often found behind the wheel of a new product, his real interest lies in the business side of the automotive industry. George is the UK jury member of the International Van of the Year and International Pick-Up Award.

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