RHA: Speed Limit Increase 'Can Improve Road Safety'

Organisation Believes Higher HGV Speed Limits Could Boost Road Safety


The Road Haulage Association (RHA) believes road safety standards would improve if heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) are allowed to travel at 50 mph on single carriageway roads outside built up areas.

At the moment, lorries weighing more than 7.5 tonnes are restricted to just 40 mph on single-lane roads and director of RHA Scotland Phil Flanders thinks this is causing motorists to feel frustrated.

Many modern trucks are now built to travel much faster and Mr Flanders feels the old speed limit is causing unnecessary congestion.

In many cases, impatient drivers are attempting risky overtaking manoeuvres - putting other road users in danger in the process.

The government is open to changing road regulations in order to make the UK's main roads run more smoothly and it was recently confirmed that the speed limit for lorries using the A9 in Scotland would be increased to 50 mph for a trial period.

Mr Flanders welcomed the news, commenting: "We anticipate a smoother flow of traffic - and a substantial reduction to the frustration among car drivers that the low speed limit creates."

He added that lorry drivers also need to do their bit to ensure road safety standards are improved.

While most truckers show due care and consideration to other road users, the RHA leader insisted that some are letting the industry down by overtaking other HGVs very slowly on two-lane carriageways - which means they are holding up traffic and causing other drivers to feel angry.

The Freight Transport Association has also backed the A9 speed limit trial, with Malcolm Bingham, head of the organisation's road network management policy, suggesting the current differential in speed limits between lorries and other vehicles is hindering road safety efforts.

"This trial will provide some much needed evidence to help determine if there are any advantages, on safety grounds, to set the speed limit of an HGV to 50 mph," he remarked.

Minister for transport and veterans in Scotland Keith Brown confirmed the A9 pilot scheme will run for 36 months and average speed cameras will be used to ensure vehicles are following the rules.

Expert Opinion
There’s a very delicate balancing act between keeping lorries to a safe speed and encouraging less reckless overtaking. Even if HGVs are allowed to travel a little faster, there will still be plenty of motorists who are able to lawfully travel at up to 60mph seeking to overtake. It is very difficult to know where to draw the line.

"Because of this, it is absolutely vital that any proposed changes to speed limits are put under a proper level of scrutiny.

"So much work has been done on improving road safety across the UK and the key issue must be to ensure that those efforts are not undermined by any amendment to current speed limits that hasn’t been thoroughly looked at.

"We would urge authorities to take care on this incredibly sensitive issue although the pilot on the A9 is a good approach if properly managed."
Neil Whiteley, Partner