The Government is considering raising the speed limit on single carriageways for lorries over 7.5 tonnes
The Government is considering raising the speed limit on single carriageways for lorries over 7.5 tonnes. As such it could rise from 40 to 45mph, or to 50mph. But this is only a proposal. It is therefore the subject of a Government Consultation Document that highlights some of the likely advantages and disadvantages. Potential benefits include:
- Reduced congestion/frustration. Why? Because lorries travelling at 40mph - when the surrounding traffic can travel at 60mph - tend to be followed by platoons of potentially faster vehicles. As such thousands of motorists get delayed every year.
- Reduced accidents. Why? Because motorists might be less likely to risk dangerous overtaking manoeuvres if they are following lorries at 50mph, rather than 40mph.
- Levelled playing field for freight operators. Why? Because Government figures say that 70% of UK lorry traffic exceeds the current limit. In an industry that is notoriously time sensitive, that is an unfair advantage over those that follow the law. Any benefit - of course - would only apply if every lorry stuck to the new limit.
- Stronger economy. How? By shortening journey times for freight operators. This could create time for extra deliveries which could make the businesses more profitable. That, in turn, could boost related industries such as fuel and tyre suppliers. These might then take on more staff which could reduce unemployment. These factors could then increase the Government's tax revenue.
Roads Minister Stephen Hammond said: The Government is committed to doing everything it can to improve conditions for economic growth. We are consulting on increasing the single carriageway speed limit for certain HGVs after listening to industry experts who say that this will boost the UK economy and businesses of all sizes.” Mr Hammond continued: “While this is likely to lead to more than £30 million a year in benefits for businesses through quicker journeys and reduced congestion, I want to make sure we have carefully considered the evidence of all of the effects on the economy, environment and – of course – road safety before we make a decision.”
Potential disadvantages in raising the speed limit for lorries over 7.5 tonnes include:
- Increased cost to Highways Agency/Local Authorities. Why? Because faster traffic could increase wear and tear on the road network. Lorries travelling at 50mph, after all, must transfer more energy into the tarmac than the slower equivalents.
- More serious accidents. Why? Because the average speed of traffic could increase.
- Environmental damage. Why? Because lorries burn more fuel travelling for, say, 100 miles at 50mph than 100 miles at 40mph. Faster traffic could also be noisier which might make life less comfortable for those that live close to major roads.