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If you have been paying attention to the stories of the speed cameras being installed on the A9 in Scotland, you know that HGV drivers and transport companies were initially up in arms when the announcement to install the cameras was made. The chief concern was that the cameras would only keep HGV drivers in check while car drivers continued to speed. They claimed this could increase accidents due to driver frustration and dangerous overtaking. Despite being criticised, an August (2014) report showed there may be some validity to drivers’ claims.

The Department for Transport (DfT) released statistics regarding average motorway speeds over the summer. Suffice to say, the numbers were not very positive. An official report said almost half of all the cars, vans, and motorbikes exceeded the 70 mph speed limit on motorways last year. However, it gets worse.

Officials went on to say that the new, de facto speed is upwards of 80 mph. Not because the law legally allows it, but because drivers are fairly confident that they will never be prosecuted. According to AA president Edmund King, motorists are rarely stopped and prosecuted for speeds of up to 80 mph, leading them to drive that fast without fear.

Likewise, HGV drivers are likely to exceed the 40 mph speed limit imposed on them at a rate of 73%. Drivers have long argued that it is a matter of personal safety. With such a drastic difference in the limits for commercial vehicles versus passenger vehicles, it is too easy for careless car drivers to come up behind a slower HGV too quickly, potentially causing an accident or forcing the driver to engage in reckless overtaking. The Government has since raised the speed limit for HGVs on motorways to 50 mph.

In Scotland, officials agreed to increase the speed limit for HGVs as well. The combination of a higher limit and the speed cameras between Perth and Inverness appears to have helped. Officials say they are targeting vehicles of every class rather than just focusing on HGVs. As for the higher limits, HGV drivers say they are seeing fewer incidents of unsafe overtaking since the changes were made.

A Foregone Conclusion

Living in a perfect world would mean that speeding would simply not take place. Nevertheless, the more pragmatic among us know this is not a perfect world. As long as there are vehicles on the road, speeding is a foregone conclusion. That means there comes a point when increased speed limits reach a level of diminished return. The Government says 80 mph for cars and motorbikes reaches that milestone. There are no plans to increase the motorway speed limit for that reason.

Here at the HGV Training Centre, we know how important it is for HGV drivers to obey speed limits. We talk about speed limits as a regular part of our safety training. For more information about training classes, the location and the cost, do not hesitate to contact us at your convenience.

Sources:

  1. Motoring Research – http://www.motoringresearch.com/car-news/80mph-now-default-uk-motorway-speed-limit-0826947932

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