Longer, ‘greener’ trucks could be approved for UK roads

The government has launched a consultation on introducing longer trucks to UK roads. This follows a trial of longer semi-trailers (LST) for articulated goods vehicles, which began in January 2012. The trail was scheduled to run for a maximum of 10 years, with a total allocation of 1,800 LSTs.

In 2017, the government agreed to increase the number by an additional 1,000 LSTs and to extend the trial by five years to 2027. The Department for Transport (DfT) gave no guarantees that the use of LSTs would continue beyond the trial period. Although longer semi-trailers are, by definition, longer than regular HGVs, they must operate within the UK's domestic weight limit of 44 tonnes for vehicles of six axles.

In real terms, an LST can carry three more rows of supermarket goods cages on each journey compared with existing trailers. In the past year, the 2,600 vehicles involved in the trial have saved lorry drivers 33.5 million miles and 48,000 tonnes of CO2. That's the equivalent of 20,000 cars.

There have also been fewer personal injury collisions compared with standard HGVs. Some 91 commercial vehicle operators supplied data for the trial.

'Clear and undeniable'

Longer, ‘greener’ trucks could be approved for UK roads

Argos, United Biscuits and Eddie Stobart are three of the big names to participate in the trial. In 2017, the Freight Transport Association argued that LSTs should become permanent.

Christopher Snelling, head of national and regional policy, said: "The success of the LST trial is clear and undeniable - it is time DfT looked to simply establish the flexibility in law so that the UK can continue to benefit from the efficiency it brings. "The success of this project shows what can be gained from adding marginally to a dimensions of our road freight fleet - massive carbon, air quality and safety benefits can be achieved right now. Weights and dimensions should be looked at in a rational, evidenced based manner and not simply rejected because some campaigners do not like the sound of them."

'Boost safety and cut emissions'

Longer, ‘greener’ trucks could be approved for UK roads

The government wants to end the trial early and seek views on whether LSTs should be allowed to permanently operate on UK roads.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: "Our freight industry keeps the country moving, delivering vital goods and services every single day - which, as we all know, has never been more important than it is now, during the pandemic. "These trials clearly show the benefits for business and the environment of using longer trailers. By determining the next steps to get them on our roads permanently, we can benefit industry and our economy, boost safety and cut emissions."

The consultation will close on 1 February 2021. ALSO READ: Is it illegal to run out of fuel on a motorway?

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