The UK government recently announced that the speed limit for HGV vehicles will be increased from 40mph to 50mph on single carriage roads. The government believes this change will deliver an £11m benefit to the haulage industry, after taking effect in early 2015.
For transport operators, it is a welcome development, amending a speed limit set back in the 1960s. Since that time, HGV vehicles have become far safer as technology has advanced and regulation ensures drivers are highly skilled and adhere to the laws of the road.
The change in limit should actually deliver a safety benefit for both drivers of HGVs and other road users. The current 40mph speed limit meant a large 20mph differential between HGVs and other road users, which often lead to dangerous overtaking manoeuvres being undertaken – some of which can end tragically – as drivers became frustrated.
Another benefit is the increase in traffic flow, with the increased speed limit lessening the likelihood of long queues forming behind HGVs on single carriage roads. Furthermore, transport operators will see efficiency increases, leading to quicker journeys and additional work being taken on.
Like any change, some groups are concerned, however as mentioned, HGVs are safer than they ever have been. Modern technology such as telematics is playing a central role in ensuring safety, keeping drivers and other motorists safe on the UK’s roads.
Telematics is used for example to monitoring drivers in terms of the quality of their driving, both in real-time and providing fleet managers data on driving standards. This enables feedback and training to be delivered, ensuring drivers are highly skilled professionals. Telematics data also assists with the identification of danger spots, helping drivers to be aware of these and allowing them to take the appropriate action.
In terms of vehicle maintenance, telematics also plays a key role, alerting those responsible for fleet maintenance to any faults, ensuring that these are identified and resolved and maintaining high safety standards.
Other technology is involved in increasing the safety of HGVs, for example video cameras are being deployed in some fleets to supplement telematics data and insight, by keeping a visual record of driving and incidents if they occur.
The increase in speed limit on single carriage roads is a positive move for the haulage industry, delivering an economic benefit to the UK whilst at the same time removing a potentially dangerous difference in the allowed speed between HGVs and other motorists.