Concerns for cyclists as longer trucks mean wider blind spots
The Department for Transport (DfT) has announced that longer trucks will be allowed on Britain’s roads to carry more goods on fewer journeys.
This is despite fears about the risks to pedestrians and cyclists and the potential damage to road infrastructure.
The vehicles have increased rear overhang – giving their rears more coverage when turning – and increased blind spots.
Truck trailers up to 18.55 m (61 ft) in length – some 2.05 m (6 ft 9 in) longer than the standard size – will be allowed from May 31 under legislation passed in Parliament on Wednesday will be used.
The DfT said the new trucks will be able to move the same volume of goods as current trailers in 8% fewer trips, meaning they will “make all the difference” for companies like bakery chain Greggs.
Keir Gallagher, campaign manager at Cycling UK, said the move was “alarming”.
“At a time when infrastructure funding has been cut to make people cycling and walking safer, it is alarming that longer and more dangerous trucks could now be allowed to share the road with people cycling and walk,” he said.
“Before the floodgates open for longer trucks rolling into our busy city centers and narrow rural lanes, further testing should have been conducted in real-world scenarios to assess and address the risks.”
The policy is expected to generate £1.4billion in economic benefits and take a standard-size trailer off the road for every 12 journeys.
According to DfT, an 11-year trial of LHVs has shown them to be safe for use on public roads.
The study found they were involved in “about 61% fewer personal injury accidents than conventional trucks,” according to the department.
A government-commissioned report released in July 2021 revealed that between 2012 and 2020, 58 people were injured in LHV incidents.
Roads Secretary Richard Holden said: “A strong, resilient supply chain is key to the Government’s efforts to boost the economy.
“That’s why we’re introducing longer trailers to transport more goods in fewer trips and ensure our shops, supermarkets and hospitals are always well stocked.
“These new vehicles will bring a nearly £1.4 billion boost to the transport industry, reducing congestion, lowering emissions and improving the safety of Britain’s roads.”
Longer trucks have the same weight limit of 44 tonnes as trucks with standard trailers.
Operators are required by law to provide appropriate route plans and risk assessments to take truck length into account.
Gavin Kirk, Greggs Supply Chain Manager, said: “We welcome the general adoption of longer semi-trailers (LSTs).
“Greggs have been operating LSTs from our national distribution center in Newcastle since 2013.
“We were early adopters of the study as we saw significant efficiencies from the 15% additional capacity they granted us.”
But Norman Baker, of lobby group Campaign for Better Transport, said: “Instead of longer lorries, the government should work to ensure that more goods are transported by rail – an efficient, safe and clean alternative with just one freight train capable of departing up to 129 lorries by rail.” our streets.”
John Thomas, Director of Policy at Rail Partners, which represents five of the UK’s largest rail freight companies, said: “To decarbonise the logistics sector, longer trucks alone will not reduce road congestion – the government needs to set an ambitious target for rail freight by.” triple in 2050.
“An ambitious rail freight growth target can deliver almost £5.2bn in economic benefits each year and take 20 million lorry journeys off our roads, relieving congestion and improving air quality. A freight train can transport up to 129 trucks.”
Steve Gooding, Director of the RAC Foundation said: “The safety record demonstrated during the extensive trials is encouraging, but problems can be envisaged when these trucks leave the strategic roads and end up off the beaten path.
“Particular attention must be paid to detour routes when motorways and major roads are closed for repairs, as is often the case.”