Fewer HGV collisions since higher speed limits were introduced

12.00 | 9 November 2016 | | 3 comments

Early evaluation of the new higher speed limits for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) shows evidence of a reduction in collisions involving HGVs.

Introduced in April 2015, the new national speed limits mean that HGVs over 7.5 tonnes can drive at 50 mph (up from 40 mph) on single carriageway roads and 60 mph (up from 50 mph) on dual carriageway roads in England and Wales.

The DfT research, published on 3 November, shows an estimated fall in the number of HGV collisions of between 10% and 36% – although the researchers acknowledge it is not possible to attribute this directly to the speed limit changes.

The analysis also shows that between 2014 and 2015, the average speed of HGVs on single carriageway roads increased between by more than 1mph. The equivalent figure for dual carriageways was an increase of less than 0.5mph.

This initial research is the first part of a three-year evaluation into the changes commissioned by the DfT in October 2015.

In terms of awareness, the research found that all HGV drivers consulted were aware of the speed limit changes on single carriageways, but not all were aware of the changes on dual carriageways.

Conversely, only 25% of non-HGV drivers were aware of the changes. There was also a very low level of awareness among residents living adjacent to roads affected by the speed limit changes.

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has welcomed the DfT’s first-year evaluation report findings, but says they should be treated with caution.

Jack Semple, RHA director of policy, said: “The study still has some time to run, and early data should be treated with caution.

"However early results have not identified negative road safety impacts. Indeed the research so far confirms the industry view that modestly raising the speed limit would both improve road safety and operating efficiency.”

Want to know more about HGVs and road safety?
Online library of research and reports etc – visit the Road Safety Knowledge Centre  
Key facts and summaries of research reports – visit the Road Safety Observatory  



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    The report has so many caveats, it’s not really conclusive anyway. The accuracy tolerance of data gathering type speed monitoring equipment is only about 1mph anyway so from the ‘increases’ quoted, one could just as easily conclude that the new speed limits have not brought about an increase in actual speeds.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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    A 25% increase in speed limit, a 36% decrease in number of collisions! If it were a 25% *decrease* in speed limit we would see claims that for each 1% decrease in speed limit we get a 1.44% decrease in casualties, I am sure. But obviously that cannot be the case for an increased speed limit. I imagine the validity of the data will be called into question in many quarters because it is conveying the wrong message for them.

    Charles, England
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    Modestly raising the speed limits? By 25% and 20% respectively is not by any means a modest amount.

    I like the words, improving ‘operating efficiency’ or in other words upping the speed limit and as a result increasing the distances a driver can now drive. Those drivers have at least an extra hour to make more daily deliveries. It now follows this year that the haulage industry are engaged in making their lorries some 15% bigger so that no doubt more shops can be supplied on a day to day, week to week basis. Such a driver will now have the equivalent to about another 8 hours work a week due to these road safety changes.

    About the reduction of reported incidents, this change could possibly be due to drivers and riders being no longer willing to speed faster and possibly break the law in order to overtake a HGV which is actually or at least doing the speed limit for that road. Its already this year been reported that the safer roads in terms of speeding are the arterial ones at 50 or 60 mph.

    Bob Craven Lancs
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