The speed limit for heavy goods vehicles travelling on single carriageway roads in England and Wales will be raised from 40mph to 50mph by April 2015.
The news, announced by the Government, affects heavy goods vehicles weighing more than 7.5 tonnes
RHA Chief Executive Geoff Dunning said: “This evidence-based decision by ministers, to increase the limit to 50mph will be strongly welcomed by hauliers and their drivers. The current limit is long out-of-date and the frustration it generates causes unnecessary road safety risk.
“We consider this announcement to be a real win for the RHA. We have lobbied long and hard on this issue and this positive outcome is a result of members’ input and support.”
Hilary Devey, founder and CEO of palletised freight network Pall-Ex, said: “With many years of experience working in the logistics industry, the overtaking of lorries on country roads has been a constant problem. The reduced speed limit has always been a source of frustration for motorists and ultimately put lives at risk as dangerous overtaking manoeuvres have occurred.
“I’m glad to see that this issue has been acknowledged, and the powers-that-be are starting to see sense. There are many different vehicles on our roads and all should be catered for in order to keep everyone safe.
“Haulage vehicles are constantly evolving and are far more advanced in terms of safety than they were 20 or 30 years ago, making them more than equipped to cope with the extra 10mph to keep traffic flowing.”
Anton Balkitis, from law firm Rothera Dowson, also welcomed the news: “This decision is long overdue and, in my opinion, the Government has been 40 years too slow in making it.
“Over the years, I’ve seen the 40mph limit for lorries on rural roads cause a number of problems. It has inevitably resulted in other motorists having to overtake to maintain the flow of traffic. In turn, this has resulted in them breaking the speed limit in the process. In fact, I’ve represented clients who have received penalty notices for doing so.
“Up until now, the whole system has been unbalanced and all road users should be united in welcoming the move.”
Offering a further perspective from the haulier's point of view, Ian Suttie, head of transport at Bradford-based Advanced Supply Chain, said: “The introduction of an increased speed limit on single carriageway roads is one to be welcomed industry-wide. The lauded economic benefits will certainly trickle down to each company within the industry. Our business will see significant fuel and time savings, as a result of us being able to utilise our vehicles to a bigger potential on a wider scale.
“Rural deliveries have often been the scourge of the road transport haulier. This ruling will now allow for quicker journey times and more efficient route planning.
“The industry is developing across the board. Higher specification equipment is now standard and operators are seeking to up-skill drivers, as we do at Advanced Supply Chain with our CPC training centre. It’s great to see law-makers have the backing of an industry that is seeking to push its own success at every opportunity.”
However, Brake, the road safety charity - which has been running a 'Rural roads not racetracks' campaign - has expressed serious concerns about the plans. It cites a survey by Brake and Digby Brown solicitors which reveals the extent of risky driving on country roads.
Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive for Brake, said: "We are disappointed and concerned by this announcement. Put simply, when vehicles travel faster, it takes them longer to stop, increasing risk. It is very well evidenced that increases in speed equal increases in crashes and casualties. At the same time, the road safety justification for this move is dubious: we are not aware of evidence it will help tackle risky overtaking, which should be addressed through other means.
"Pronounced speed differences between traffic can pose a risk, but the way to address this is by preventing car drivers going too fast, not speeding trucks up. The minister says she wants to get the country moving, but we ask at what cost to road users and the environment?
"Our own survey has just revealed the worrying extent of dangerous fast driving on country roads. We should be taking steps to address this, through driver education, lower speed limits and better enforcement. We are concerned for rural communities already blighted by fast traffic and for those who want to safely enjoy the countryside on foot, bike or horseback. This threatens to make these problems worse."