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Restrict longer lorries in urban areas say transport experts

18 October 2013
Longer HGVs, currently being trialled on UK roads, should be restricted to local authority designated routes on road safety grounds, say transport experts.

Campaign for Better Transport and The Technical Advisers’ Group have written to the Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, to urge him to introduce designated HGV routes within towns and cities to protect pavements and property, reduce the risks to more vulnerable road users and ease the financial burden on local authorities.

There is already a significant problem with lorries causing damage to pavements, street furniture and parked cars when negotiating urban roads, as well as the danger to pedestrians and cyclists. The letter points to the Government’s own tests which showed that the new longer lorries, which are up to 18.55m long, have a greater tail swing, increased driver blind spots and inferior manoeuvrability.

The letter also highlights the lack of research into the additional costs to local authorities, and ultimately taxpayers, from damage caused by these longer vehicles at a time of reduced local authority budgets.

Philippa Edmunds, Campaign for Better Transport, said: “The freight industry needs access to their depots on urban roads within towns and cities to be able to function efficiently, however many urban junctions would simply not be able to accommodate these vehicles, forcing them to mount kerbs, traffic islands or enter adjacent lanes when turning. Therefore, it is imperative that the longer HGVs are restricted to designated local authority routes agreed by the local authority and the operator.”

Martin Sachs, secretary of TAG National Transport Committee, said: “We are looking to work with the Department for Transport to find a way to minimise the impact of the introduction of longer trailers particularly off strategic roads. We need to ensure that there are no increased risks to the safety of other road users, and that roadside property and highway infrastructure are protected. We need to ensure the costs of these measures are borne by the industry, which will benefit from the introduction of longer trailers, as highway authorities have no slack in their budgets."

Notes to editors

1. A copy of the letter sent to the Secretary of State and The report on demonstration of longer semi-trailers and risks to vulnerable road users are both available on the Campaign for Better Transport website.

2. The Department for Transport has permitted a ten year trial of 17.60m and 18.55m (60ft) lorries, which started in January 2012. The current limit is 16.5m (54ft).

3. Government figures show that existing HGVs are four times more likely than cars to be involved in fatal collisions on local roads Source: Traffic statistics table 2010 TRA0104, Accident statistics Table RAS 30017, both DfT

4. DfT research stated 7ft longer trailer would have increased tail swings and be more susceptible to cross-winds. P8 para 28. DfT Longer Semi-trailers Feasibility Study.  The DfT research states that the longer lorry could meet existing standards with either 2 self-steer axles or a command steer axles but meeting existing standards is not the same things as meeting existing performance Page 7 paragraph 23 DfT Feasibility Study 2011.

5. A demonstration of the new longer vehicle at the Department for Transport’s testing facility in Millbrook Bedfordshire showed the rear tail-swing when turning corners was significantly greater than normal HGVs, up to 1.3 m greater under normal road conditions, and would occur within the driver’s blind spot, posing a significant threat to other road users, especially cyclists and pedestrians.

6. Campaign for Better Transport has produced a report on demonstration of longer semi-trailers and risks to vulnerable road users including a detailed analysis by Jim Chisholm, a CBT supporter and the pioneering researcher who developed the computer simulation program TRACK (the basis for AutoTrack) for vehicle swept path analysis.

7. Campaign for Better Transport is the UK's leading authority on sustainable transport. We champion transport solutions that improve people's lives and reduce environmental damage. Our campaigns push innovative, practical policies at local and national levels. Campaign for Better Transport Charitable Trust is a registered charity (1101929).

8. The Local Authority Technical Advisers’ Group (TAG) is a professional association incorporated in 1995. It was formed from the Association of Metropolitan District Engineers (AMDE), the Association of London Borough Engineers and Surveyors (ALBES) and the Association of Chief Technical Officers (ACTO) in District authorities in areas where local government responsibilities are divided between Counties and Districts. It serves all levels of local government covering the whole range of local authority technical services.