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Trucking Industry UK

Longer semi-trailers given go ahead

The Government is playing 'Russian roulette' with road users' safety, a union claims.

The use of longer semi-trailers (LSTs) on Britain’s roads has been given the green light by transport secretary Grant Schapps.

Speaking in front of a transport select committee, Schapps said he had signed off a trial of “heavier” trucks with “more wheelbases” to make these vehicles (which are longer than standard units by up to two metres) a permanent fixture on our roads.

The Department for Transport (DfT) started trialling 2,600 LSTs in 2012 and planned to continue doing so until 2027. DfT’s official stance on the use of longer road haulage vehicles is that they are not suitable for the UK’s road structure.

However, the trial data revealed that LSTs significantly reduce artic lorry journey numbers by 8% (that’s equivalent to 33.5 million vehicle miles saved). The results also show that LSTs can reduce CO2 emissions by 48,000 tonnes (that’s equivalent to removing 20,000 cars from the road). All this at the same time as boosting productivity.

Schapp’s decision to finish the trial period and give LSTs the go-ahead has been welcomed by the haulage industry.

Speaking about the announcement, Tom Cotton, head of infrastructure policy at the Road Haulage Association said: “This is absolutely brilliant news as LSTs can carry another six pallets, so from an environmental perspective the industry can move more per vehicle, cutting down on journeys and emissions.”

He continued: “It also helps to some extent with the driver shortage problem. However, we would also like to see the weight allowance increased from 44 tonnes to get the full benefit from these vehicles.”

Mike Hawes, chief executive of SMMT also welcomed the move, adding that any “additional ‘light touch’ regulation” from the DfT would help “reassure those with any lingering queries, and ensure manufacturers and operators can reap the environmental, productivity and safety benefits of these trailers.”

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