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Last autumn lorry drivers throughout the UK started to challenge the 40 mph speed limit on class A roads. Their position is that the slower speed for lorries is both bad for business and a potential hazard as drivers of the faster cars make dangerous moves to get around them. The effort paid off for England and Wales, so the drivers have taken the fight north to Scotland.

Future drivers currently undertaking HGV training in Glasgow would do well to pay attention to how things go. Their livelihoods may be directly affected by the eventual position the Scottish government takes. If the 50 MPH Campaign succeeds, it will level the playing field between Scotland and their neighbours to the south.

To help make the debate easier to understand, here are the two main positions:

Keep Speed Limits the Same

Those in favour of maintaining the status quo believe increasing speeds for heavy goods vehicles would increase the likelihood of dangerous accidents. They cite statistics that show a correlation between road crashes and high rates of speed. Yet whether or not that data is applicable to lorries travelling at 50 mph, is a matter of contention.

Nonetheless, the position of not raising speed limits for lorries is founded in the belief that current laws have made UK highways as safe as they can be. Any potential of making them less safe simply as a means of improving traffic flow and increasing economic opportunity is not wise.

Raise Speed Limits for Lorries

Among those who want to see speed limits for lorries raised, there are three main arguments: improved traffic flow, greater safety, and improved economic potential. Of the three, greater safety seems to be the one gaining the most traction.

The road safety argument is largely based on the fact that many of the speed-restricted roads are single carriageways where faster cars are forced to drive in the oncoming lane to overtake a slower lorry. It is already common knowledge that passing other vehicles on a single carriageway is one of the most dangerous things a driver does. By increasing the speed limit, the need for such passing would be reduced.

Good Training Is Essential

Regardless of how things turn out in Scotland, the need for good HGV training is arguably the most important factor for road safety among lorry drivers. As HGV driver and 50 MPH Campaign supporter Conor McKenna has said all along, dangerous conditions are created by drivers operating their vehicles at both ends of the speed scale. Speeding and driving too slowly are equally dangerous.

Lorry drivers need to receive high-quality HGV training that emphasises road safety and speed. Even after earning a license, they need constant reminders to maintain safe driving practices for the benefit of all drivers. Whether a driver receives his HGV training in Glasgow, London, or Cardiff, the quality of this training and his or her lifelong attitude toward road safety will do far more than regulating speed limits.


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