Lorry drivers are to be allowed to increase their speed to 50mph on single-carriageway sections of the notorious A9, dubbed Scotland’s most dangerous road.
The move, announced by Scottish Government transport minister Keith Brown, has been widely welcomed by campaigners.
Hauliers believe it will provide a boost to the freight industry, while others hope it will reduce the frustration of other motorists held back by HGVs over 7.5 tonnes travelling at 40mph.
Mr Brown said a 36-month trial of the 50mph limit would be introduced on the Inverness to Perth route at the same time as a controversial average speed cameras project on the road, which the government believes will cut deaths.
Once all the legislation is passed, it is anticipated the new HGV limit will be in place by spring next year, in time for the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup being hosted in Scotland.
Mid-Scotland and Fife Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser, who is head of the “Dual the A9” campaign, and has been calling for a speed-limit increase for some time, said: “This is a victory for common sense.
“I am pleased that the Scottish Government is listening to the calls of road users, politicians and campaigners.”
He said the deadly reputation of the A9 was built on its confusing layout, with accidents caused by frustrated drivers overtaking slow-moving goods vehicles.
Mr Fraser added: “This move is good news for road safety, business and the economy, and if successful will hopefully become permanent.”
Phil Flanders, Scottish director of the Road Haulage Association, said the decision would come as a huge relief to the
“We will be doing all we can to ensure the pilot is a success and that it will benefit not just the freight industry but the whole of Scotland’s economy.”
The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has also stated its support for the new measure.
Malcolm Bingham, FTA head of road network management policy, said: “We welcome the opportunity of such a trial as we believe the current differential in speed limits between HGVs and other vehicles increases the road-safety risk.
“This trial will provide some much-needed evidence to help determine if there are any advantages, on safety grounds, to set the speed limit of an HGV to 50mph.”
Mr Brown said that the A9 was one of Scotland’s most important links and the pilot was just one of the many engineering, enforcement and education measures being introduced to improve the safety and operation the route ahead of dualling.