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Campaigners raise concerns on longer lorries on local roads

23 September 2018

At the end of National Lorry Week, Campaign for Better Transport has written to the Government raising its concerns about the intended roll out of longer lorries on local roads.

The Department for Transport’s (DfT) annual report on the trial of longer lorries (published 20 September) could pave the way for the general use of longer lorries on UK roads.

The trial of the longer lorries is not adequately assessing the impact on local roads or involving local authorities, which look after 97 per cent of the road network and will be responsible for dealing with these lorries once they leave the motorway.

Campaign for Better Transport has written to the Government asking it to ensure that local authorities are more closely involved in assessing the impacts of longer lorries on all minor roads, including urban, town centre and rural roads, in future assessment before longer lorries are allowed in general use.

Darren Shirley, Chief Executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said:

“There is too little evidence being gathered on the safety and use of longer lorries on local roads in our towns and cities. Given the extra length and tail swing when turning, these lorries could present serious problems to cyclists and pedestrians.

“The Government should not bring longer lorries into general use until it has assessed the impacts with local authorities and addressed any safety concerns for other road users.”


For further information please contact the press office on 020 3746 2235 or communications@bettertransport.org.uk

Notes to Editors

  • The Department for Transport allowed a ten year trial of 7ft (2.05 metres) longer semi-trailer trucks in 2012, the current limit is 16.5m (54ft). It has since extended the trial by a further five years and increased the number of vehicles to 2,800. Longer semi-trailer trial evaluation: annual report 2017
  • The annual report is compiled by Risk Solutions for the Department for Transport as part of a 15 year trial of the 7ft (2.05m) longer lorries on UK roads and has been published during National Lorry Week (15-21 September).
  • Department for Transport (DfT) statistics show that existing sized heavy goods vehicles were almost seven times as likely as cars to be involved in fatal collisions on minor roads in 2016 (Source DfT: Traffic statistics table TRA0104, Accident statistics Table RAS 30017)
  • Our latest research shows that HGVs are still only paying a third of the costs they impose on society in terms of road congestion, road damage, collisions and pollution which results in a £6 billion annual subsidy from taxpayers.
  • Almost a third of existing sized lorries are driving around completely empty (30 per cent) and only 36 per cent of lorries were fully loaded in terms of volume. (Source: Department for Transport) Current industry practice is to buy the biggest lorry available and use for all jobs, big or small.
  • Campaign for Better Transport has specific concerns about the trials of longer lorries and the way they have been carried out including:
    • It ignores or discounts safety concerns surrounding the increased tail swing and blind spot of these longer lorries - which is almost double that of standard lorries when making right and left turns - putting other, more vulnerable, road users at risk, especially on minor roads.
    • It uses a combination of GPS and modelled journeys, rather than real GPS data. Campaign for Better Transport wants to see future reporting using only real GPS data so that the trial can establish the exact routes and types of roads the longer lorries are using. This will give more accurate information on the routes that longer lorries are using.
    • The economic, safety and environment benefits for longer semi-trailers are predicated on the argument that longer lorries are used more efficiently than existing HGVs and therefore reduce the number of lorry miles. However, the trial shows that the longer lorries were only fully loaded for 37 per cent of their journeys with the extra length not being used at all for almost half of the journeys (46 per cent); existing sized lorries were fully loaded (by volume) for 36 per cent of their journey according to DfT statistics.   
  • 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).