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Speed limits raised for heavy hauliers

By: William Hobson
01 December 2010

Speed limits for ultra-heavy loads on British roads have increased from 12mph to 25mph this week, with the aim of making heavy logistics work more efficient and safer.

As reported by Road Transport, the new speed limits for vehicles carrying more than 150 tonnes - "abnormal loads" - came into effect on the 29th of November. The increase to 25mph will apply to all vehicles weighing between 150 and 250 tonnes, whilst the limit for draw-bar trailer vehicles of the same weight category will only rise to 12mph. The existing speed limit of 12mph will continue for girder frame trailers.

Spokesmen from the Department for Transport (DfT) have confirmed that these changes aren't merely in response to the speeds many drivers wanted to travel at when carrying heavy loads but instead, have been inspired by technological advances in vehicles and trailers.

Research into the changes was carried out by the Highways Agency when they were first proposed last year. This showed that around one hundred abnormal loads weighing over 150 tonnes were transported each year - and that despite most being transported well outside of peak times, the resultant congestion cost the economy some £5.1m per year.

The research indicates that by increasing the maximum permitted speed of some of these loads, this figure could fall to £2.5m without having more than a marginal impact on road maintenance. Police have welcomed the move as they believe it will reduce the number of accidents caused by fast moving traffic colliding with slow-moving loads from the rear.

"By increasing the speed we can cut both costs for businesses moving these loads and improve safety," said Mike Penning, Roads Minister. "Although most abnormal loads are scheduled to avoid times when the roads are busy, some congestion on the roads as a result of these operations is unavoidable."

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