New legislation for longer lorries 12 May 2023

legislation longer lorries semi-trailers These new lorries will move the same volume of goods, but will use 8% fewer journeys than current trailers (By AdobeStock Jaroslav Pachý Sr)

New legislation allowing longer lorries and semi-trailers on roads is expected to save 70,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) and generate £1.4 billion in benefits.

The UK government legislation has been laid out to safely roll out longer lorries and semi-trailers on roads from 31 May. The longer lorries will be able to transport fast-moving consumer goods and retail products, as well as waste packaging, parcels and pallets.

These new lorries will move the same volume of goods but will use 8% fewer journeys than current trailers. This will take one standard-size trailer off the road for every 12 trips.

The longer trailers, known as longer semi-trailers (LST), measure up to 2.05 metres longer than a standard semi-trailer and can be towed by a lorry.

The move follows an 11-year trial to ensure LSTs are used safely on roads, and operators will be encouraged to put extra safety checks and training in place. The trial demonstrated that LSTs were involved in around 61% fewer personal injury collisions than conventional lorries.

Roads minister Richard Holden said: “Everyone around the country depends on our haulage sector for their everyday needs – from loo rolls to sausage rolls – and a strong, resilient supply chain is key to the government’s priority to grow the economy.

These new longer lorries will make a big difference for British businesses like Greggs, who will see 15% more baked goods delivered, from tasty pastries to the nation’s much-loved sausage rolls.

It’s fantastic to see this change for our supply chain come into law, resulting in a near £1.4 billion boost to the haulage industry and driving economic growth. Let the good times roll as we reduce congestion, lower emissions and enhance the safety of British roads.”

Vehicles which use LSTs will be subject to the same 44 tonne weight limit as those using standard trailers. These new vehicles are also expected to cause less wear on the roads than conventional lorries due to the type of steering axle used.

Operators will be legally required to ensure appropriate route plans and risk assessments are made to take the specifications of LSTs into account.

In addition to these new legal requirements, operators will be expected to put in place extra safety checks including driver training and scheduling, record keeping, training for transport managers and key staff, and loading of LSTs.

With over 300 companies in the UK having already taken part in the trial, and almost 3,000 on the road, the brands rolling out the extended use of these longer semi-trailers include Morrisons, Stobart, Royal Mail and Argos.

Gavin Kirk, supply chain director at Greggs, said: “We welcome the introduction of LSTs into general use. Since 2013, Greggs has been operating LSTs from our National Distribution Centre in Newcastle. We were early adopters of the trial as we saw significant efficiency benefits from the additional 15% capacity that they afforded us.

We have converted 20% of our trailer fleet to LSTs, which was the maximum allowable under the trial, and these complement our fleet of double-deck trailers. Our drivers undertook additional training to use these trailers and we have monitored accidents, finding that they are as safe as our standard fleet.

Due to the increased capacity, we have reduced our annual kilometer (km) travel by 540,000 km, and saved 410 tonnes of carbon per year from LSTs. This supports our wider ESG agenda, the Greggs Pledge.”

The trial revealed the environmental benefits associated with the introduction of LSTs, including a considerable reduction of 70,000 tonnes of CO2 and 97 tonnes of nitrogen oxides (NOx) over the trial.

The average CO2 reduction across the lifetime of the trial is similar to the amount of CO2 captured by roughly 11,600 acres of forest per year.

The move is part of the government’s 33 actions to address the shortage of heavy goods vehicles (HGV) drivers and boost recruitment and retention. Other actions include giving £52.5 million to improve roadside facilities for lorry drivers, making 11,000 HGV driver training places available through skills bootcamps and boosting the number of HGV driver tests.

Chris Yarsley, senior policy manager at Logistics UK said: “The introduction of longer semi-trailers (LSTs) into general service will increase the scope and scale of the goods which our industry is able to transport, increasing efficiencies and reducing the environmental impact of delivering for the UK’s economy.

Over the past few years of the trial, our members have proved that LSTs provide operators with a cost-efficient, environmentally prudent alternative to conventional vehicles and our members remain committed to rolling them out across the wider industry as soon as possible.”

In response to the announcement, the Road Haulage Association (RHA) issued the following statement: “We welcome these new laws to permit longer semi-trailers. We’ve supported these trials and this change will increase productivity, reduce HGV journeys by carrying the same volume of freight in fewer lorries – and reduce mileage, congestion and carbon emissions. We look forward to seeing the impact of these changes on vehicle fleets.

“The Government could however go further by increasing the permitted weight to 48 tonnes. This will be increasingly important when we roll out zero-emission trucks to compensate for the increased weight from batteries.”

Transport Engineer

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