A proposal to increase the maximum speed for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) on Britain’s single carriageway roads has the British Horse Society worried.
The Department for Transport sought feedback on proposals to increase the speed limit for HGVs over 7.5 tonnes on such roads from 40mph to 50mph.
The department believes the speed increase would save up to 2.4 million driving hours a year, and £31 million to £36 million annually.
The society made a submission opposing the move, saying such an increase would encourage even faster, more dangerous driving to the detriment of horse riders, who have few bridleways on which they can ride safely.
Higher HGV speeds would mean that overtaking traffic would have to travel faster to overtake, thereby increasing the risk of accidents, the society’s director of access, safety and welfare, Mark Weston.
“The British Horse Society considers that there should be no such increase until a full impact assessment has been carried out into the effect that such an increase in speed limits would have on vulnerable road users, especially equestrians,” he said.
“It is important that nothing is done to increase the dangers of riding on our roads.”
Weston, in his submission for the society, which represents the interests of 3.4 million riders and carriage drivers, said while the society accepted the change would be of financial benefit to the freight industry, it believed the increased speed on single carriageways would increase the number of accidents.
“Single carriage roads are the roads that equestrians use most often to access the fragmented equestrian rights of way network.
“Any increase in speed limits would encourage even faster, more dangerous driving to the great detriment of horse riders, who have very few bridleways on which they can ride safely.
“HGVs over 7.5t are subject to a lower speed limit than other vehicles because they are much heavier, and take much longer to slow down and stop, especially when laden, than a car travelling at the same speed.
“The NHS Hospital episode statistics for 2011–12 show that there were 4142 ‘animal rider or occupant animal drawn vehicle’ injured in transport accidents, which represents a significant financial cost to the country.”
The Department of Transport is also considering a smaller lift in the limit to 45mph, which the society also opposes.
The society’s submission can be read here.