Legislation has come into force on 6 April 2015 to increase speed limits for Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) on single and dual carriage ways. The national speed limit for HGVs weighing over 7.5 tonnes has been increased from 40 to 50 miles per hour on single carriageways and from 50 to 60 miles per hour on dual carriageways. 

The changes are aimed at increasing growth in the freight industry by improving journey times, cutting congestion, and reducing costs to businesses and consumers. It has also been suggested that it may reduce the number of collisions caused by other road users overtaking slower moving lorries. Road safety groups such as Brake, however, have suggested that the move will not lead to any significant benefits and is a means of legitimising drivers who flaunt the current limit. 

William Broadbent, associate in the personal injury team at Penningtons Manches, commented: “The increase in the national speed limit for HGVs is of real concern given the severity of injuries often caused in accidents involving HGVs. While this may potentially lead to some economic benefits, any benefit is likely to be outweighed by the potential dangers of HGVs travelling at higher speed on narrow roads. 

“Although the Government has suggested that increasing speed limits will decrease the number of risky overtaking manoeuvres, there is still a difference in the speed limits between HGVs and cars and similar overtaking manoeuvres will continue but with both vehicles at higher speed. 

“As the changes are now in force, the message that must be relayed to all drivers - not just HGV drivers - is that speed limits are maximum limits, not a speed to be attained. It is frequently unsafe to travel at such speeds so all drivers should judge their speed according to the road conditions not just the speed limit.”