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Increasing the length of HGVs risks more accidents

29 March 2011
Allowing longer heavy goods vehicles risks an increase in fatal road accidents, claimed Campaign for Better Transport today ahead of the launch of a Government consultation on the proposal (30 March).

The Government is expected to begin consulting on whether to increase the maximum length of HGVs by 2.05m to allow lorries up to 18.55m on UK roads. But Campaign for Better Transport warns this could lead to more traffic accidents with HGVs already almost four times (384%) more likely to be involved in fatal accidents on minor roads than cars1.

Any changes to existing lengths would also clear the way for further increases in the future that could lead to huge HGVs up to 25.5m long and weighing 60 tonnes.

Campaign for Better Transport's chief executive, Stephen Joseph, said: "Introducing longer HGVs will further damage this Government's green credentials and undermine efforts to adopt rail as a more sustainable, safer and environmentally sensible way to move freight. Rather than making HGVs longer and more dangerous to other motorists and cyclists, the Government should be doing more to promote rail freight and enforcing existing road regulations to reduce accidents involving lorries. If the Government allows this increase it could be the tip of the iceberg with so-called mega trucks just around the corner."

The majority of HGVs are not currently complying with existing road regulations putting the public at increased risk. Government figures show that over 83 per cent of HGVs exceed the 50mph speed limit on dual carriageways and three quarters (75%) exceed the 40mph limit on single carriageways2. Despite making only four per cent of road trips, HGVs were involved in almost half (43%) of all London cycling deaths3.

Notes to Editors

1. Complied by transport planning consultants MTRU using Department for Transport figures.

2. Department for Transport, Road Statistics 2009: Traffic, Speeds and Congestion.

3. London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Deaths of cyclists in London: trends from 1992 to 2006.

4. An aggregates train can carry as much as 160 HGVs and a consumer freight train as much as 50.

5. Any increase in HGV semi-trailer length, even for national traffic only, risks opening up the current Directive 96/53 EC. Once opened, amendments can be made for further increases which could lead to mega trucks of 25.5m and up to 60 tonnes coming to the UK.

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).