Charity raises serious concerns over plan to raise speed limit for lorries

Julie Townsend of Brake
Julie Townsend of Brake

Brake, the road safety charity, has expressed serious concerns about plans announced today by the Department of Transport to raise the speed limit for lorries on single carriageway roads to 50 mph.

The announcement comes as a survey by Brake and Digby Brown solicitors reveals the extent of risky driving on country roads.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive for Brake, said: “We are disappointed and concerned by this announcement. Put simply, when vehicles travel faster, it takes them longer to stop, increasing risk. It is very well evidenced that increases in speed equal increases in crashes and casualties. At the same time, the road safety justification for this move is dubious: we are not aware of evidence it will help tackle risky overtaking, which should be addressed through other means. Pronounced speed differences between traffic can pose a risk, but the way to address this is by preventing car drivers going too fast, not speeding trucks up. The minister says she wants to get the country moving, but we ask at what cost to road users and the environment?

“Our own survey has just revealed the worrying extent of dangerous fast driving on country roads. We should be taking steps to address this, through driver education, lower speed limits and better enforcement. We are concerned for rural communities already blighted by fast traffic and for those who want to safely enjoy the countryside on foot, bike or horseback. This threatens to make these problems worse.”

The survey carried out by Brake and Digby Brown’s survey of 1,000 UK drivers also found:

• One in three drivers (33%) admit driving too fast for safety on country roads, by speeding, taking bends fast or overtaking.

• Four in 10 (37%) have had a near-miss on country roads, while driving, walking or cycling.

• One in five (19%) admit breaking speed limits on country roads in the past year

• Three in 20 (15%) admit taking corners or brows too fast

• One in 20 (5%) admit overtaking when it isn’t safe

• Three in 10 (28%) have been a passenger with a driver who broke the limit, one in five (19%) with a driver who took corners or brows too fast, and one in 12 (8%) with a driver who overtook when it wasn’t safe.

• Four in five (80%) think traffic is too fast for safety on some or most rural roads. Full results below.