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National speed limits for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) are to be increased from 40 mph to 50 mph. By April 2015, HGVs travelling on single carriageway roads in England and Wales will be able to travel legally at 50 mph.

A statement from stated today that hauliers across England and Wales could see a £11 million a year boost due to the increase in the speed limit. Transport Minister, Claire Perry announced the move as part of a package of measures to cut congestion, reduce dangerous overtaking and help get the country moving. HGVs over 7.5 tonnes are currently stuck at 40 mph on single carriageway roads – a speed limit set in the 1960s and at odds with other large vehicles on our roads.

The government has also launched a six week consultation on plans to increase the speed limits for HGVs on dual carriageways from 50 mph to 60 mph.

Claire Perry said: “Britain has one of the world’s best road safety records and yet speed limits for lorries have been stuck in the 1960s. This change will remove a 20 mph difference between lorry and car speed limits, cutting dangerous overtaking and bringing permitted lorry speeds into line with other large vehicles like coaches and caravans. Current speed limits for HGVs were introduced around 50 years ago and need to be updated given improved vehicle technology.”

The Road Haulage Association also welcomes this news. RHA Chief Executive, Geoff Dunning said: “This evidence-based decision by ministers, to increase the limit to 50 mph 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 The current limit is long out-of-date and the frustration it generates causes unnecessary road safety risk.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.”

One of the country’s leading motoring law experts also speaks out about the decision.

Anton Balkitis, from law firm Rothera Dowson, said: “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 40 mph 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.”

The increase in the speed limit will bring England and Wales in line with other European road safety leaders, such as Denmark and Norway. And, depending on the consultation responses, the increase for dual carriageways will come in at the same time. Until then road users are urged that the existing limits continue to apply until the change has been put into effect.

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