Longer trucks to be allowed on UK roads despite safety warnings

The longer trucks will be fully allowed on Britain’s roads after the government said it would introduce laws to allow their use, despite warnings the move will increase the number of fatal road accidents.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said trucks up to 18.55 meters long, 2.05 meters more than the current standard size, would be allowed from the end of this month.

The longer trucks have been tested since 2011 and there are already some 3,000 on the roads, but from May 31 any business in England, Scotland or Wales will be able to use them.

As part of the change, longer combinations of semi-trailers will be allowed, according to legislation brought before parliament on Wednesday. These longer semi-trailers, or LSTs, are just over 2 meters longer than a standard semi-trailer and can be towed by a truck.

The government argues that the move will reduce emissions, improve productivity and support supply chains. The longer vehicles will move the same volume of goods as today’s heavy vehicles, but will require 8% fewer trips than today’s trailers as they haul retail goods, packaging waste, packages and pallets across the country. .

Ministers have estimated that the change will generate £1.4bn in economic benefits and will remove one standard-size trailer from the roads for every 12 journeys, saving 70,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

But longer vehicles have a larger overhang, which means their rear end covers more area when turning, and they also have larger blind spots, raising concerns for the safety of other vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists.

Road safety groups have long warned of the dangers they pose to pedestrians and cyclists, adding that vehicle turning and blind spots could lead to damage to road infrastructure.

When the trial began, campaigners argued that the new trucks would be longer in length than the flexible buses previously used in London, which were withdrawn in part due to reports that they caused twice as many injuries as other buses.

The DfT said the 11-year-old driver showed that LSTs were involved in around 60% fewer personal injury collisions than standard trucks. Operators will be legally bound to ensure that route plans and risk assessments take into account LST specifications.

The Campaign for Better Transportation criticized the change, tweeting: “We put a lot of work into exposing the dangers and misinformation around longer trucks, so we are disappointed. [the DfT] It’s taking this retrograde step.”

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Bakery chain Greggs has operated LST since 2013 from its national distribution center in Newcastle and said it had enabled them to carry 15% more produce than on a standard length lorry.

Roads Minister Richard Holden said: “Everyone across the country depends on our transport sector for their daily needs, from toilet rolls to sausage rolls.”

Vehicles using LST will still have to meet the same 44-ton weight limit as trucks pulling standard trailers.

The government believes that the longer vehicles will cause less wear and tear on the roads than conventional trucks due to the type of steer axle used.

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