DfT stats reveal nearly 70 per cent of lorries break 40mph limit

Data also show that more than 80 per cent break 50mph dual carriageway limit… but hardly any speed on motorways

by Simon_MacMichael   December 16, 2011  

Cement lorry in London © Simon MacMichael.jpg

A staggering 83 per cent of lorries are driven at speeds in excess of the 50mph speed limit on dual carriageways in non-built up areas, and 69 per cent on similarly designated single carriageway roads, where a 40mph limit applies, according to new data from the Department for Transport (DfT). However, on motorways, few lorries were found to break the speed limit of 60mph applicable to them on those roads, attributed by the DfT to the fact they are fitted with speed limiters.

The figures, contained in the DfT’s Transport Statistics Great Britain: 2011, also showed that on single carriageway roads, some 18 per cent of lorries travelled at speeds of 10mph above the relevant speed limit.

The news comes at a time when the safety of cyclists sharing the road with lorries has come under the spotlight in London in particular following a string of fatalities in recent months; nine of the 16 cyclists killed in the capital this year died in collisions with lorries.

While road design at junctions rather than speeding is the focus of campaigners’ attention in London, national cyclists’ organisation CTC maintains that speeding lorries not only pose a danger to cyclists – it says that while they represent 5 per cent of traffic, they are responsible for 19 per cent of fatalities of bike riders – they are also hugely intimidating.

Last month, a jury at Swansea Crown Court acquitted a lorry driver from causing the death by careless driving of 20-year-old Olin Poulson from Carmartenshire. The court had heard that the lorry had been travelling at 55mph on a road that had a limit of 40mph, with the vehicle’s speed dropping slightly to 52mph at the time of impact.

According to the DfT, “Very few rigid and articulated HGVs exceeded their speed limit of 60 mph on motorways, as they are fitted with speed limiters” – which is another way of saying that taking away drivers’ ability to break the speed limit in the first place is arguably the easiest way of ensuring that they keep within it.

More news from Transport Statistics Great Britain: 2011 coming soon.

10 user comments

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No wonder then there are injuries and fatalities on our roads.

posted by onlyonediane [157 posts]
16th December 2011 - 17:11

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I recall that the RAC published survey findings which indicated that over two thirds of motorists admitted that they regularly exceeded speed limits. Another survey apparently indicated that about 15% of motorists admitted that they regularly broke the law against use of a handheld mobile while driving.

But of course none of this beahviour is nearly as dangerous as a cyclist setting off before the lights go green, or rinding on a footpath!

You would think that we now have the technological capacity to fit location-based (ie GPS capability)speed limiters to all vehicles, or at any rate all new vehicles. The cost woudl be a few hundred quid tops per vehicle. That would of course raise the question how to deal with older vehicles and how to manage recidivists who acquire old cars just to escape the limiters, but is that a reason not to?

posted by Paul M [290 posts]
16th December 2011 - 17:36

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Paul M wrote:

You would think that we now have the technological capacity to fit location-based (ie GPS capability)speed limiters to all vehicles, or at any rate all new vehicles. The cost woudl be a few hundred quid tops per vehicle. That would of course raise the question how to deal with older vehicles and how to manage recidivists who acquire old cars just to escape the limiters, but is that a reason not to?

The older vehicles will eventually hit the breakers as they become uneconomic to repair, save for some that might be considered classics - exactly the same as it's been for years. The vast majority of classics drivers aren't idiots and tend to treat the vehicles with a bit of care, so don't go hooning around much.
I wouldn't be in favour of compulsory fitment of GPS speed-limiting on older vehicles as it's a sledgehammer/nut solution. Time will work its effects, but there's never an overnight solution.

posted by Cauld Lubter [112 posts]
17th December 2011 - 14:13

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I think part of the problem is that the employers expect the drivers to get from A to B within a certain time frame. The company should be fined as well as the driver as they are placing unrealistic targets on their drivers. I see the buses doing the same thing - racing between stops to beat other companies to the punch. There should actually be no need for a bus to speed as they have a timetable to keep to. I've actually found my self on a bus which pulls into the side for 5 minutes soley because it is running early.

Personnally I feel that 'professional' drivers should be treated with more stringently than other drivers soley based on the fact that they drive for a job. Taxi, HGV, PSV, sales reps should all have heavier fines and points system. A kind of a sliding rule thing as my perception is that a lorry driver gets the same FPN as a drive for speeding. I might be wrong. Maybe some of the polis men out there could put me right Smile

giff77's picture

posted by giff77 [912 posts]
17th December 2011 - 16:13

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I think part of the problem is that the employers expect the drivers to get from A to B within a certain time frame.

Quite so. Piecework driving should be illegal.

Note that it's also very easy to hire a rigid 10-20t truck such as a tipper or cement-mixer without showing an HGV licence.

Some cracking down is needed.

posted by JohnS [198 posts]
17th December 2011 - 16:28

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Having to use haulage companies through work it can be frustrating when they are late or they fail to deliver due to the work time directive. however this is no excuse for speeding.

I wonder what Mr Flanders of the RHA has to say on this one??

Gav

posted by Gavin667 [14 posts]
21st December 2011 - 12:46

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In "Wheels Within Wheels: A study of the road lobby" (1987), Mick Hamer writes:

Two days before the end of 1944, the road lobby sent the government its demands for heavier lorries. The lobby wanted longer and wider lorries. It wanted their speed limits increased (from 20 to 30 mph). It wanted the limit on axle weights, then standing at 8 tons, abolished. And it wanted an increase in the maximum weight from 22 to 40 tons.

...

Then, as now, the speed limit was widely ignored by lorries. The civil service was complacent, arguing that there was "no evidence that accidents result from vehicles exceeding the speed limit".

...

In April 1946 the ministry road safety committee agreed to higher speeds with some reluctance, recommending that they be strictly enforced.

Sounds like that idea of Philip Hammond's to increase the motorway speed limit to 80mph and recommending that it be "strictly enforced".

posted by Joe Dunckley [9 posts]
21st December 2011 - 17:35

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What a load of nonsense. 'Speeding' is not 'going too fast' which is what causes accidents and setting limits stupidly low, at 40 MPH, creates the speeders. Increase it to 50 and there will be less of them. The negative side of over-slowing road transport is the deaths caused from the billions to the economy, about £3 billion per annum per 1MPH, and the more lives we could save in NHS, A&E etc. If we didn't pander to the lucrative Road Safety Industry, and its lobby fodder like Brake and cycling groups. Then of course the overtake accidents that would be avoided if these lorries were going faster too. So, although cyclists won't like that logic it is a fact. 40 MPH is too low for lorries on trunk roads.

The vast majority of speeding lorries are not killing cyclists at all and more are killed, not from speeding but simply by placing themselves, exposed & unshielded, amongst and in the path of, heavy moving machinery; so it is bound to result in cyclist death. It's no good getting indignant about the right to place yourself in grave danger. Would you cycle down railway lines or airport runways? So cycling on roads is very dodgy. Accept it!

Cyclists are in a tiny minority and it's about time politicians considered their core voters, the driver lobby more.

posted by Driver Protest Union [16 posts]
23rd December 2011 - 18:23

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Looks like your singing from the same old hymnbook as the ABD. The same hymnbook that needs to be torched IMHO. Speed limits are there for a reason, to keep people safe so don't start spouting this crap about "setting them too low".

Having had 2 rather dangerous passes recently by HGV's and being told by one firm that they basically thought it was OK I'm all for more regulation of these types of vehicles. These so called professional drivers should take greater pride in their work and obey the law.

posted by bassjunkieuk [31 posts]
1st February 2012 - 14:02

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I know I shouldn't feed the troll, but it's a slow day at work and this idiot piqued my interest.

Driver Protest Union wrote:
What a load of nonsense. 'Speeding' is not 'going too fast' which is what causes accidents and setting limits stupidly low, at 40 MPH, creates the speeders. Increase it to 50 and there will be less of them.

Oh well done, you've correctly identified that driving over 40mph is only illegal because the speed limit is set at 40mph. That must have been a tricky one to uncover. Your solution of reducing the problem by changing the offence is great. Have you thought of getting a job in the Office for National Statistics?

Driver Protest Union wrote:
The vast majority of speeding lorries are not killing cyclists at all and more are killed, not from speeding but simply by placing themselves, exposed & unshielded, amongst and in the path of, heavy moving machinery; so it is bound to result in cyclist death. It's no good getting indignant about the right to place yourself in grave danger. Would you cycle down railway lines or airport runways? So cycling on roads is very dodgy. Accept it!

Your whole argument is predicated on the fact that you have more right to be on the road in your speeding lorry than I do on my bike. This, you suggest, gives you a right to run me down. But I have every right to be there - that road you are talking about is a public facility, paid for out of all of our taxes. I have as much right to use it as you do, whether that is on my bike, in my car or in a lorry (in fact, if you're speeding and I'm behaving within the law, there's a good argument that I have more right to be there than you).

When choosing to use that public facility in a vehicle which can cause serious harm or death to other people, I am required to take responsibility for doing so in a manner which does not result in harm to others. To suggest otherwise is like saying 'I have a gun, and I'm allowed to fire it. If you get in the way, that's your problem, and you deserve what's coming to you'. What if I rammed my lorry in to yours because you were going too slowly? Who would be responsible for the damage?

Driver Protest Union wrote:
Cyclists are in a tiny minority and it's about time politicians considered their core voters, the driver lobby more.

Nice political philosophy there - biggest group wins. That's going to result in a fair, just society where minority groups aren't discriminated against, isnt it? Of course, you've assumed that cyclists are a 'tiny minority'. Anyone know how many cyclists in the UK? And how many lorry drivers?

And what is a core voter anyway?

posted by step-hent [626 posts]
1st February 2012 - 14:35

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