The speed limit for lorries on single carriageway roads will increase to 50mph next year.
According to the government, hauliers across England and Wales could see a £11 million boost as a result of the speed increase.
Transport Minister Claire Perry has announced the move as part of a package of measures to cut congestion, reduce dangerous overtaking and help get the country moving.
Heavy goods vehicles over 7.5 tonnes are currently stuck at 40mph on single carriageway roads – a speed limit set in the 1960s and at odds with other large vehicles on our roads.
The government has also today (24 July 2014) launched a six-week consultation on plans to increase the speed limits for HGVs on dual carriageways from 50mph to 60mph.
Claire Perry said: “We’re are doing all we can to get Britain moving and boost growth. This change will do exactly that and save our haulage industry £11m a year.
“Britain has one of the world’s best road safety records and yet speed limits for lorries have been stuck in the 1960s. This change will remove a 20mph difference between lorry and car speed limits, cutting dangerous overtaking and bringing permitted lorry speeds into line with other large vehicles like coaches and caravans. Current speed limits for HGVs were introduced around 50 years ago and need to be updated given improved vehicle technology.”
Geoff Dunning, from the Road Haulage Association, said: “This evidence-based decision by ministers, to increase the limit to 50mph will be strongly welcomed by hauliers and their drivers. The current limit is long out-of-date and the frustration it generates causes unnecessary road safety risks.”
The change in speed limits for HGVs on single carriageways will come into force in early 2015 and will bring England and Wales in line with other European road safety leaders, such as Denmark and Norway. Depending on the consultation responses, the increase for dual carriageways will come in at the same time. The existing limits continue to apply until the change has been put into effect.
The Department for Transport is also urging English councils to use local powers issued last year to restrict traffic to 30, 40 or 50mph where necessary because of pedestrian and cyclist use of roads, where the road is located and the layout. The Department has also announced today the intention to carry out a major study about rural road safety in the near future.
The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has also backed the speed limit increase.
Malcolm Bingham, head of road network management policy, said: “The FTA strongly supports this decision as we believe there is evidence confirming that road safety will be improved if the differential between HGVs and other road users is reduced. Many motorists do not understand that the limit for lorries is only 40mph and this can lead to frustration and on occasion risky overtaking.”