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Lorries involved in rising percentage of fatal crashes

22 October 2013
Lorries are involved in a increasing percentage of fatal traffic accidents on Britain's roads. New analysis has shown that last year HGVs were implicated in more than half of fatal motorway accidents and one-in-five fatal accidents on A-roads, continuing negative trends over the last five years.

Campaign for Better Transport, who commissioned the research, have called on Government to introduce measures to limit accidents caused by heavy lorries and make roads safer for all users.

Philippa Edmunds, spokesperson for Campaign for Better Transport said

"This new research shows lorries are involved in a high percentage of the most serious accidents on our roads and that year-on-year the problem is getting worse. The Government should be taking steps to reduce the dangers posed by lorries. They must start by abandoning wrong-headed initiatives to allow longer lorries and higher speed limits for HGVs on single carriageways."

The assessment of official statistics, carried out by the Metropolitan Transport Research Unit (MTRU) for Campaign for Better Transport, showed that the ratio of fatal road accidents involving Heavy Good Vehicles (HGVs) compared with those involving other vehicle types has been climbing year on year:


  • On motorways: More than half (52%) of fatal accidents on motorways involve HGVs, despite HGVs only making up 10% of the traffic on motorways
  • On A-roads: HGVs are involved in 1 in 5 fatal crashes on A roads, a ratio that has worsened over the last 5 years
  • On minor roads: An HGV is five times as likely to be involved in a fatal accident on a minor road than other traffic

Philippa Edmunds continued


"There are signs that lorry safety could get worse. Not content with trials of longer trailers and proposals for higher speed limits, the industry is pushing for double articulated mega-trucks to be allowed on UK roads. Research shows these can worsen road safety, congestion and pollution. The UK needs to make clear that it will oppose European plans for these huge lorries to be allowed to cross national borders. If they don't, the UK will come under pressure from the road haulage industry to allow these 82ft monsters onto UK roads on competition grounds.”


For further information please contact Andrew Allen at Campaign for Better Transport, on 020 7566 6494 / 07984 773 468 or andrew.allen@bettertransport.org.uk


1. The research, HGV fatal accident rates, was carried out for Campaign for Better Transport by the Metropolitan Transport Planning Unit. The research can be downloaded from the Campaign for Better Transport website.

2. Campaign for Better Transport has called on Government to take steps to reduce the number of accidents involving heavy lorries:


  • Reject current EU proposals for double articulated 'mega trucks'  25 metres (82ft)  to be allowed to cross national borders. Failure to do this would significantly increase the pressure from the road haulage industry for mega trucks to be allowed on UK roads on competition grounds.
  • Prevent HGVs from using inappropriate roads by allowing local authorities to restrict the routes they can use, keeping them out of town centres.
  • Maintain the 40mph speed limit for 7.5 tonne HGVs on single carriageway roads, and not adopt the increase to either 45 or 50 mph as Government proposed in November 2012.
  • Introduce a simple road user charging scheme for goods vehicles based on vehicle type and distance, covering all roads in Great Britain. The scheme should include incentives for the use of low emission vehicles and different rates at different times of the day to reduce congestion at peak times.
  • Support continuing mode shift from road to rail. This should include a speeding up of electrification of the rail network and ensure all major distribution parks are planned with a presumption of a rail connection.
  • Tackle road freight emissions through rapid roll-out of infrastructure for gas-powered HGVs; accelerating transition to electric power for vans; and encouraging use of Low Emission Zones outside London.
  • Reduce the danger that lorries pose to pedestrians and cyclists by including standards for safe lorry design, equipment and driver training in the above national freight operator recognition scheme.
  • Launch a Green Freight Fund to incentivise the uptake of low emission vehicles.
  • Improved enforcement of vehicle standards to help ensure all lorries meet legal guidelines and are driven in line with Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) qualifications.

3. The UK is currently trialing the use of longer HGVs. On 18 October, Campaign for Better Transport and the Local Authority Technical Advisers’ Group wrote to the Secretary of State for Transport urging 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. Drawing on new research, 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.


4. In November 2012, Government consulted on its plans to increase the speed limit for 7.5 tonne HGVs traveling on single carriageways from 40mph to 45mph or 50mph. It has yet to publish the outcome of the consultation.

5. The European Parliament is currently discussing proposals to allow mega trucks up to 25 metres long, and up to 60 tonnes in weight to cross national borders. This is part of controversial proposed amendments to the EU Weights and Measures Directive which proponents hope to see adopted in April 2014.

6. 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).