Rural roads lorry speed limit rises
The Government is raising the speed limit for lorries on rural roads from 40mph to 50mph.
Transport minister Claire Perry said the increase would save the haulage industry £11 million a year, with hauliers and motoring organisations welcoming the announcement.
But the British Cycling organisation said it was "staggering" that limits were being increased when many trucks were "simply not fit for purpose".
The change in speed limits for lorries on single carriageways will come into force in early 2015 and will bring England and Wales in line with other European road safety leaders, such as Denmark and Norway.
The Government has also launched a six-week consultation on plans to increase the speed limits for lorries on dual carriageways from 50mph to 60mph.
Mrs Perry said: "We are doing all we can to get Britain moving and boost growth. This change will do exactly that and save our haulage industry £11 million a year.
"Britain has one of the world's best road safety records and yet speed limits for lorries have been stuck in the 1960s.
"This change will remove a 20mph difference between lorry and car speed limits, cutting dangerous overtaking and bringing permitted lorry speeds into line with other large vehicles like coaches and caravans.
"Current speed limits for HGVs (heavy goods vehicles) were introduced around 50 years ago and need to be updated given improved vehicle technology."
British Cycling's campaigns manager Martin Key said: "It's staggering that the Government has increased the speed limit for these vehicles when many of them are simply not fit for purpose.
"HGVs are involved in a fifth of cyclist fatalities and many of the vehicles have large blind spots which prevent drivers seeing people near the cab. "
He went on: "The Government has failed to close the loopholes allowing certain HGVs to forgo fitting additional mirrors and safety equipment. This move is in direct conflict with the Government's aim of creating a cycling revolution in Britain."
AA president Edmund King said: "This seems like a common sense move. Every driver has probably experienced being stuck behind a lorry travelling at their legal 40mph limit on a single carriageway main road with a national default speed limit of 60mph for cars."
He went on: "This 20mph speed differential can lead to bunching and dangerous overtaking manoeuvres. So we welcome the plans to allow trucks to legally travel at 50mph on these roads to end this frustrating, dangerous, historic anomaly."
RAC Foundation director Professor Stephen Glaister said: "For drivers there is nothing more dangerous than single carriageway rural roads, with two-thirds of car occupants dying on these types of route.
"The hope is that the raising of the limit will bring vehicle speeds closer together and reduce the temptation for people to overtake where they should not.
"We would expect the Department for Transport to closely monitor the change to make sure this is the case."
Geoff Dunning, from the Road Haulage Association, said: "This evidence-based decision by ministers to increase the limit to 50mph will be strongly welcomed by hauliers and their drivers.
"The current limit is long out of date and the frustration it generates causes unnecessary road safety risks."