The costs and benefits of raising the HGV speed limit to 50mph on single carriageways are not as straightforward as Martin Reid of the Road Haulage Association (RHA) makes out (Friends of The Scotsman, 17 September).
The evidence actually suggests that Scotland should be extremely cautious about copying the ill-thought-through plan to increase the speed limit in England.
Any death or injury benefits are far from proven – indeed, research undertaken by the A9 Safety Group into HGV speeds being retained at 40mph or increased to 50 mph found that retaining the 40 mph speed limit was “the safest option”.
The research specifically demonstrated that average speed cameras plus a 40mph HGV speed limit would reduce fatal accidents by 36 per cent, but only by 27 per cent in the case of a 50mph limit, while 40mph would cut serious injury accidents by 25 per cent, compared with just 18 per cent with a 50mph limit.
There are also wider dimensions to further increases in HGV speed limits. How will this impact on Scotland’s climate change targets?
The Department for Transport itself concedes that as a result of the higher speed limit “an increase in carbon emissions is forecast due to increased fuel consumption by HGVs”.
And how will faster lorry journeys impact on existing (and potential) freight on rail?
The last thing we should be contemplating is a measure which could lead to freight modal shift from rail to road – the opposite of Scottish Government policy.
Last, but not least, what about the impact of faster lorries on cyclists, the most vulnerable road users?
We support the Scottish Government’s position that it sees no evidence to raise the speed limit from 40mph. The RHA has many questions to answer.
Rail Freight Group