In 2015, the maximum speed limit was raised for HGVs over 7.5 tonnes by 10mph. This means that trucks and lorries can travel at 50mph on single carriageways and 60mph on dual carriageways.
The government has released a 2-year evaluation report on the impact these speed changes have made to traffic speeds and flows, road safety and the environment.
The report shows the changes have contributed to a 1.5mph increase in average speeds on single carriageways. An increase of just 1mph would release around 650,000 driver hours with a saving of more than £10 million a year, according to the report.
Road safety is increased because the HGVs are travelling at the same speed as other vehicles on the road reducing the need for risky overtaking. The impact on road safety will be addressed in the final report.
Roads minister Michael Ellis said: “I am pleased to see the improvement in safety while helping to unlock the UK’s potential – encouraging growth and enhancing productivity.
“Increasing the speed limit for lorries has helped companies save time and money, enabling them to re-invest this in their business and buying newer and greener vehicles.
“This move has also potentially improved road safety as it appears to have reduced the risks some drivers take when overtaking slow-moving vehicles.”
The report also shows that the number of speeding lorries has fallen by about 70%. Since the change in speed limit was introduced, the average lorry speed on single carriageways increased by 1.5mph to 45.6mph, and other vehicles also saw increased speeds.
Read the evaluation report here