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Longer lorries heading for London, say transport experts

28 April 2016 

Transport experts are calling for the use of new longer heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) to be restricted in the capital as new data illustrates the road safety threat they pose to other more vulnerable road users.


Campaign for Better Transport and The Local Government Technical Advisers Group (TAG) used data collected during a partial demonstration of a new 18.55m (61ft) lorry by the Department for Transport to simulate the full effects of a standard left hand turn at a typical urban junction. The results showed the longer lorry would have almost double the tail swing of a normal lorry, posing a significant threat to other motorists, cyclists and even pedestrians.

Philippa Edmunds, Campaign for Better Transport, said: “Government officials are ignoring the real dangers of these longer trucks manoeuvring on urban roads. These longer trucks will become the new standard trucks operating on all roads, regardless of the dangers to other road users. We want to see the Government limit their use to designated local authority routes that have been rigorously assessed by appropriate modelling software to ensure that no part of the lorry would pass outside its traffic lane when turning. Importantly this analysis should be funded by the haulage operators who benefit from longer trucks, not the local authorities who are forced to accommodate them.”

Martin Sachs, Honorary Secretary of the National Transport Committee of TAG, said: ”There is already a significant problem with lorries causing damage to pavements, street furniture and parked cars, not to mention the danger to other road users and pedestrians. Our analysis shows that these new longer lorries have increased driver blind spots and almost double the rear tail swing of a normal full length articulated lorry, which makes negotiating tight turns even more difficult. Towns and cities are no place for these mega trucks, many junctions simply can’t accommodate these vehicles forcing them to mount kerbs, traffic islands or enter adjacent lanes when turning putting other road users in danger.”

Lorries already pose a road safety problem. Government figures show that existing HGVs are six times more likely than cars to be involved in fatal collisions on urban roads.

In the light of this new analysis the groups are calling for longer HGVs to be restricted to local authority designated routes within urban areas to reduce the risks to other road users; protect pavements and property from damage; and reduce the current financial burden of repairs that currently falls on local authorities and taxpayers. 


Graphic showing effects of longer lorry tail swing


You can dowload the graphic hereFor further information please contact Richard Watkins on 020 7566 6494 / 07984 773 468 or richard.watkins@bettertransport.org.uk

Notes to editors

  1. Data collected during a partial demonstration of the new longer vehicle at the Department for Transport (DfT) testing facility MIRA at Nuneaton, Warwickshire on 14 April showed the rear tail-swing when turning corners was significantly greater than normal HGVs, up from 1.7m (5.5ft) to 3.3m (10.8ft) under normal road conditions. Campaign for Better Transport and the Technical Advisers Group used software to simulate how these longer lorries would perform when undertaking a standard left hand turn after the DfT refused to physically demonstrate the manoeuver, only performing a less acute turn despite repeated requests to be fully transparent about the effects of the vehicles. 
  2. Collision statistics from DfT Traffic statistics table TR0104, Accident statistics table RAS 30017 September 2014In London the statistics are even worse, with HGVs 10 times more likely to be involved in a fatal collision than cars. According to TfL’s HGV Safety Officer Glen Davies, between 2008 and 2013 55 per cent of cycling fatalities in London involved an HGV - in 2015 that figure was even higher with seven of the nine cyclist fatalities in London involving lorries - while only 3.6 per cent of road miles were carried out by HGVs (Freight Transport Association Journal Summer 2015). 
  3. In May 2015 Isabel Dedring, Deputy Mayor for London, and Councillor Julien Bell, Chair of London Councils’ Transport and Environment Committee, wrote to the Transport Secretary to outline their safety concerns surrounding longer lorries. Read their letter and the Transport Secretary’s response below. In the reply from Patrick Mcloughlin he states that these longer lorries have the same manoeuvrability as a standard lorry, however the DfT’s own research confirmed that, without additional steering technology which is still not available, that is not the case: DfT consultation Page 7 para 23.
  4. The DfT has permitted a ten year trial of 17.60m (58ft) and 18.55m (61ft) lorries, which started in January 2012. The current limit is 16.5m (54ft) for articulated lorries and for draw-bar operations is 18.75m.
  5. 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).
  6. The Local Government Technical Advisers Group (TAG) is a network of local authority finance experts who meet to discuss and develop work on the technical and accountancy issues related to local government finance.