New higher speed limits for lorries have been introduced in a move which has divided truckers and road safety campaigners.
The new regulations will see speed limits in England and Wales for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) over 7.5 tonnes rise from 40mph to 50mph on single carriageways and from 50mph to 60mph on dual carriageways.
The Government has predicted that the move, brought into force on April 6, will boost the economy by around £11 million.
Claire Perry, transport minister, said: “It is really important that speed limits for lorries reflect the needs of a modern transport network and improved vehicle technology.
“Britain has one of the best road safety records in the world and I am determined to ensure this continues. This change is about ensuring rules for lorry drivers’ speed limits are in line with other larger vehicles on our roads, creating a fairer and more proportionate system.”
Malcolm Bingham, head of road network management policy at the Freight Transport Association, said the old speed limit sometimes led to “hasty overtaking manoeuvres that sadly often resulted in casualties.
“We believe that it will benefit industry as it will allow operators to use the additional speed, where it is safe to do so, and gain running cost benefits.”
AA president Edmund King said: “Car drivers heading home at the end of the Easter bank holiday may notice and wonder why big lorries are going faster than at the start of the Easter break.
“Hopefully, this speed increase will ease the frustration of drivers who find themselves ‘stuck’ behind an HGV on a winding single carriage road.”
Gary Rae, campaigns manager for road safety charity Brake, said: “We are disappointed that the Government has gone against the advice of road safety groups on this issue.
“The decision to increase HGV speed limits is short-sighted and runs against work to more effectively manage traffic speeds and reduce casualties on our roads.
“The relationship between speed and casualties is a proven one, so allowing the largest vehicles on our roads to reach higher speeds more often risks more deaths, serious injuries, and additional cost to the taxpayer.”