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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/increased-speed-limit-for-heavy-goods-vehicles-over-75-tonnes-initial-summary-report/evaluation-of-the-national-hgv-speed-limit-increase-in-england-and-wales-year-1-interim-summary-september-2016
In April 2015, new national speed limits came into force for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) over 7.5 tonnes on single carriageway and dual carriageway roads in England and Wales. The new limits are:
- 50 mph (up from 40 mph) on single carriageway roads
- 60 mph (up from 50 mph) on dual carriageway roads
In October 2015, the Department for Transport commissioned a 3 year evaluation of these speed limit changes. The primary aim is to determine and understand the impacts of the speed limit changes. A secondary aim is to generate evidence to support future policy decisions. This note presents a summary of the analysis for the first year of the evaluation. These early findings will be enhanced with additional data in the next 2 years. The findings presented here should therefore not be taken as an indicator of the long term impacts of the policy change.
Care should be taken when interpreting the interim results from the first year and the following data constraints must be taken into account:
Traffic speeds and flows. Data from April to December 2014 were used for understanding the baseline situation (before the speed limit changes). Data from April to December 2015 were used for the analysis of the initial impact of the speed limit changes. Further data will be added as part of the ongoing evaluation to extend the timeframe of our analysis and thereby provide increased confidence in the results.
Safety. Collision data (STATS19) for the period from January 2005 to September 2015 were used. There was therefore approximately 10 years of pre-change data and only 6 months of post-change data available. The 2016 analyses are therefore initial findings and should not be interpreted as robust evidence of change.
Summary of findings
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, 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. HGV drivers also noted the opinion that the ability to drive up to 50 mph on single carriageways had, or will, reduce collisions involving the overtaking of HGVs.
The initial analysis of traffic speeds and flows found that:
- speeds for HGVs over 7.5 tonnes on single carriageway roads had increased between 2014 and 2015 by more than 1 mph, on average, across a range of flow conditions
- the equivalent figure for dual carriageways was an increase of less than 0.5 mph
The initial analysis of safety data between 2005 and 2015 identified that:
- historically, up to 17% of all reported collisions in England and Wales have taken place on single (50 mph and 60 mph speed limit) and dual carriageway (60 mph and 70 mph speed limit) roads - 7.6% of the total collisions on these roads were reported to involve HGVs
- prior to the introduction of the new speed limits there had already been a trend of collisions reducing on these roads, though the rate of reduction had slowed in recent years
- in the period following the introduction of the new speed limits there is preliminary evidence of a reduction in HGV collisions estimated to be between 10% and 36%, however, it is not possible to attribute this directly to the speed limit changes
Analysis of safety, speed and flow data will be repeated in 2017 and 2018, extending the timeframe and quantity of data, thereby improving understanding of the impact of the speed limit changes. Further work will also be undertaken in 2018 to understand whether there are any environmental impacts of the speed limit changes (in terms of air quality and noise) and to estimate the economic implications.