The National Traction Engine Trust

Recent announcements by the Transport Minister and the DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) will lead to the increase of speed limits for vehicles over 7.5 tonnes weight.  In the announcement Transport Minister 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 £11 million 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 20 mph 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 50 mph 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 The current limit is long out of date and the frustration it generates causes unnecessary road safety risks.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 50 mph 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.

A 6 week consultation has also been launched to gain the views of drivers and hauliers on the proposal to raise the speed limit of HGV’s to 60mph on dual carriageways.  The Introduction to the consultation document is by Claire Perry and is reproduced here:

Introduction to Consultation

The freight and logistics sector is an essential part of the UK economy employing around 2 million people. Improving the conditions for growth in the logistics sector is a key element of the Government’s growth agenda. To facilitate this, it is my aim, where possible, to free professional hauliers from unnecessary regulation and to get freight moving more efficiently on our roads.

I have already announced the decision to raise maximum speed limits for HGVs over 7.5 tonnes (t) on single carriageway roads from 40 to 50 mph. This consultation explores the option to increase the current maximum speed limit for those vehicles on dual carriageways from 50 to 60 mph alongside that change. I am committed to making both changes work safely and work for people using roads in different ways.

Many dual carriageways in urban areas and some elsewhere are subject to lower local limits or the 30 mph urban limit. Other dual carriageways are major trunk links, built close to motorway standards. So the use and function of dual carriageways can vary - and they can be important for driving, riding, walking and the people living by them.

The national speed limit for cars on all purpose dual carriageways is 70 mph, with some other classes of larger vehicle (such as most vans and coaches) being limited to 60 mph. Changing the speed limit for HGVs of more than 7.5t to 60 mph would align their limit on dual carriageway roads to match the limits for coaches, cars and vans when towing a caravan or a trailer and smaller goods vehicles (including most vans). The revised limit would match the capabilities of modern vehicles more closely.

The current speed limit just does not work. It is broken by about 80% of HGV drivers at any particular time when they are not constrained by other traffic or the road layout. It is implausible that it could readily be made to work without a disproportionate effort.

The assessment of the proposal considers it unlikely that the proposed change in the speed limit change will result in actual speeds changing significantly.

However the proposed increase to a more credible speed limit will end the risk (albeit relatively remote) of professional drivers being penalised under the criminal law for a behaviour the vast majority of them are doing. The change would allow for enforcement and sanctions to be targeted more effectively.

Access to the consultation which closes on 5th September is via


05 Aug 2014