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