A recent pilot scheme on Britain’s roads shows that longer lorries are better for tackling congestion, air quality issues and some safety issues too. Up to 90,000 journeys we no longer necessary under the scheme, organised as a trial project by the government.
The government pilot used longer semi-trailers for transporting goods from warehouses and depots. It saved up to 10.6 million vehicle kilometres and also brought down the number of HGVs on the roads. This not only reduced congestion but had a positive impact on air quality, with a reduction in CO2 emissions.
Transport Minister John Hayes commented: “This is good news for consumers, a boost for motorists as it is helping cut congestion with fewer vehicles on the road and it is also helping the environment.”
The use of longer lorries also has financial benefits. The researchers estimate a £33 million economic saving over the next ten years due to the project. They also state that British hauliers may save up to 1 in 9 journeys, cutting costs and further boosting the economy. The lorries’ length has increased by up to 15% making it easier to carry larger loads.
Longer Lorries for Improved Safety
The pilot scheme was also able to look at the safety of these new longer HGVs. During the project, they were involved in approximately 70% fewer collisions and accidents per kilometre when compared with the average for standard articulated HGVs. The positive nature of the results means the government is now working to involve more industry organisations. They want to increase the number of vehicles participating in the trial and possibly extend it further.
Increased Road Freight equals Increased Road Risk
The latest figures for domestic road freight show that there is an annual increase in the volume of goods moving around the UK. The number of fatal accidents involving HGVs has fallen in recent years, but this does not mean there isn’t more to do. In 2014 there were 240 fatal accidents involving HGVs. This number is far too high, and this is why further action is necessary.
The focus of this government pilot scheme is primarily economic, with a slight environmental focus. However, if these new lorries prove to be safer, they can play a role in road safety too. HGVs make up less than 4% of non-motorway traffic in the UK. Despite this around 20% of all cyclists deaths each year involve an HGV. The disproportionate nature of HGV involvement in serious accidents means further safety measures are necessary.