A West Yorkshire-based road safety charity has branded new higher speed limits for lorries as “short-sighted”.
Under new regulations, speed limits in England and Wales for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) over 7.5 tonnes will rise today from 40mph to 50mph on single carriageways and from 50mph to 60mph on dual carriageways.
Gary Rae, campaigners manager for road safety charity Brake, said the decision runs against work to manage traffic speeds and reduce casualties.
He said: “The decision to increase HGV speed limits is short-sighted and runs against work to more effectively manage traffic speeds and reduce casualties on our roads.
“The relationship between speed and casualties is a proven one, so allowing the largest vehicles on our roads to reach higher speeds more often risks more deaths and serious injuries.”
But Malcolm Bingham, head of road network management policy at the Freight Transport Association, said the old speeds sometimes led to “hasty overtaking manoeuvres that sadly often resulted in casualties”.
He went on: “We believe that it will benefit industry as it will allow operators to use the additional speed, where it is safe to do so, and gain running cost benefits.”
The FTA pointed out that the current speed limit was introduced in the 1960s and since then lorry technology has advanced.
AA president Edmund King added: “Hopefully, this speed increase will ease the frustration of drivers who find themselves ‘stuck’ behind an HGV on a winding single carriage road.
“For drivers who are confident enough and used to passing HGVs on single carriage roads, they may have to lower their overtaking expectations.”