You may be aware that the Department for Transport has been conducting a ten-year trial of longer semi-trailers (LSTs) on UK roads. A report has been released this month giving positive feedback from the third year of the trial, suggesting that these longer trailers will become an attractive prospect for haulage companies and a common occurrence on British highways in the future.
The Department for Transport’s trial of LSTs started in January 2012 when 1,800 longer semi-trailers set out on UK roads. These trailers are 2.05 metres longer than the standard 13.6 metre units we usually see in the UK at the moment. This allows an increased capacity for each HGV, as long as the load does not exceed the UK’s existing weight limit.
Because of this obvious size increase, safety has been an important factor to keep an eye on during the trial. When it finishes in 2022 the trial will aim to evaluate the impact of LSTs on British roads and how they can make supply chain logistics more efficient in this country.
The Potential Benefits
Because fewer lorries are needed to transport the same amount of goods when using longer semi-trailers, businesses will be happy to see a smaller fuel bill. Fewer HGVs on the road also means less congestion on UK highways, helping to reduce journey times. The trial is expected to save around £33 million over 10 years.
Fewer lorry journeys mean fewer associated emissions, which helps the haulage industry to do their bit in the fight against climate change and improve the air quality of Britain. Over 3,000 tonnes of CO₂ is expected to be saved during the trial period.
The Findings So Far
The latest report from the Department for Transport is very encouraging. It shows that longer semi-trailers are helping to reduce HGV miles by a significant amount. The environmental benefits are already proving to be as considerable as expected, while LSTs continue to have a good safety record. In fact, figures show that longer semi-trailers have so far proved to be safer than their shorter equivalents: their collision rate and casualties per kilometre are 70% less nationally than 13.6 metre trailers.
Currently almost three quarters of goods transfer in Britain is done by road rather than by rail and water. By improving the efficiency of road-based haulage, LSTs promise to benefit the UK supply chain as a whole. If no problems come to light in the remaining six years of the trial it will be a proven tactic for transport businesses to have longer semi-trailers as a staple part of their fleet.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides a valuable service providing information on issues affecting semi-trailer drivers and the other latest news from the industry. Matching delivery work with available vehicles, over 4,000 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.
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