Longer lorries being allowed on British roads

The Government has announced longer lorries will be introduced to roads, which it says delivers on the “priority to grow the economy, boost productivity, slash road emissions, and support supply chains”.

Legislation will be laid today to roll out the vehicles on British roads from 31 May. The longer lorries will be able to transport consumer goods and retail products, as well as waste packaging, parcels and pallets.

The Department for Transport’s worked out the new lorries will move the same volume of goods using 8% fewer journeys than current trailers – which it thinks will generate £1.4 billion in economic benefits and taking one standard-size trailer off the road for every 12 trips.

A Longer Semi-Trailer is an extra-long semi-trailer, able to be towed by a lorry, measuring up to 2.05 metres longer than a standard semi-trailer. The Government estimates their use will save 70,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere over 11 years.

The move follows an 11-year trial to ensure they are used safely on roads, and operators will be encouraged to put extra safety checks and training in place. The trial showed that LSTs were involved in around 61% fewer personal injury collisions than conventional lorries.

“A strong, resilient supply chain is key to the Government’s efforts to grow the economy,” commented Roads Minister Richard Holden. “That’s why we’re introducing longer semi-trailers to carry more goods in fewer journeys and ensure our shops, supermarkets and hospitals are always well stocked.

“These new vehicles will provide an almost £1.4 billion boost to the haulage industry, reduce congestion, lower emissions and enhance the safety of UK roads.”

Vehicles which use LSTs will be subject to the same 44 tonne weight limit as those using standard trailers, with analysts believing the new vehicles will cause less wear on the roads than conventional lorries due to the type of steering axle used.

Operators will be legally required to ensure appropriate route plans and risk assessments are made to take the unique specifications of LSTs into account. In addition to these new legal requirements, operators will also be expected to put in place extra safety checks including driver training and scheduling, record keeping, training for transport managers and key staff, and loading of LSTs.

The Government expects LSTs will create almost £1.4 billion in net economic benefits by ensuring more goods are carried on fewer vehicles, supporting productivity and boosting the economy. With over 300 companies in the UK having already taken part in the trial, and almost 3,000 on the road, some of the biggest brands including Greggs, Morrisons, Stobart, Royal Mail, and Argos, will be rolling out the longer semi-trailers. 

“We welcome the introduction of Longer Semi-Trailers into general use,” added Gavin Kirk, Supply Chain Director at Greggs. “Since 2013, Greggs has been operating LSTs from our National Distribution Centre in Newcastle. We were early adopters of the trial as we saw a significant efficiency benefits from the additional 15% capacity that they afforded us.

“We have converted 20% of our trailer fleet to LSTs, which was the maximum allowable under the trial, and these complement our fleet of double-deck trailers. Our drivers undertook additional training to use these trailers and we have monitored accidents, finding that they are as safe as our standard fleet.

“Due to the increased capacity, we have reduced our annual km travelled by 540,000, and saved 410 tonnes of carbon per year from LSTs, which supports our wider ESG agenda, The Greggs Pledge.”

The trial revealed the environmental benefits associated with the introduction of LSTs, including a considerable reduction of 70,000 tonnes of CO2 and 97 tonnes of NOx over the trial. The average CO2 reduction across the lifetime of the trial is similar to the amount of CO2 captured by roughly 11,600 acres of forest per year. The savings in NOx emissions averages to the entire annual NOx emissions of around 2,000 diesel cars per year.

(Picture – DfT)


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