New Legislation to Allow Longer Lorries on UK Roads from May 31

New legislation has been introduced in the UK that will allow longer lorries on British roads from May 31. Under the new laws, longer semi-trailer (LST) combinations up to 18.55 metres - 2.05 metres longer than standard size - will be permitted.

This move is expected to generate an economic benefit of £1.4 billion and reduce the number of journeys required by operators by 8%. In addition, it will take one standard-size trailer off the road for every 12 trips, which will ease congestion and lower emissions.

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Published on
May 10, 2023

The longer trailers are expected to cause less wear and tear on the roads than conventional lorries, which should lead to lower costs. Furthermore, the list of savings includes reduced tyre costs due to the fact that the additional wheels on the longer trailers distribute the weight of the load more evenly, resulting in less wear on the tyres. These cost savings, combined with the increased efficiency and environmental benefits, make the adoption of longer semi-trailers an attractive option for hauliers looking to improve their operations.

An 11-year trial was conducted to ensure that LSTs are used safely on the roads. It was found that LSTs were involved in around 61% fewer personal injury collisions than conventional lorries.

One company that has already been using LSTs is Greggs, which expects a 15% increase in its regular deliveries. Gavin Kirk, Supply Chain Director at Greggs, said, "We were early adopters of the trial as we saw significant efficiency benefits from the additional 15% capacity that they afforded us. Our drivers undertook additional training to use these trailers and we have monitored accidents, finding that they are as safe as our standard fleet."

Roads Minister Richard Holden said, "That’s why we’re introducing longer semi-trailers to carry more goods in fewer journeys and ensure our shops, supermarkets, and hospitals are always well stocked. These new vehicles will provide an almost £1.4bn boost to the haulage industry, reduce congestion, lower emissions, and enhance the safety of UK roads."

Vehicles using LSTs will be subject to the same 44-tonne weight limit as those using standard trailers. The 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 unique specifications of LSTs into account. They will also 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.

Over 300 companies in the UK have already taken part in the trial, and almost 3,000 LSTs are on the road. Big brands such as Morrisons, Stobart, Royal Mail, and Argos will also be rolling out the longer semi-trailers.

The introduction of LSTs is an important, easy, and affordable measure to continue to reduce CO2 emissions from the haulage industry without significant technological and infrastructure development. Chris Yarsley, Senior Policy Manager at Logistics UK, said, "The introduction of longer semi-trailers 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."

Overall, the introduction of LSTs is a positive move for the haulage industry and the environment, as it will generate economic benefits, reduce the number of journeys required, ease congestion, and lower emissions. With appropriate safety checks and training, LSTs can be used safely on the roads, as proven by the 11-year trial.

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