Longer lorries to be allowed on Britain’s roads

Lorry on a motorway

There could soon be fewer lorries on the motorways

We’ve all seen lorries making their way up and down the motorways, but have you ever thought about how big they are? 

Starting from 31 May 2023, longer lorries will be permitted on UK roads. Currently, lorries measure in at approximately 16.5m but the new legislation will allow HGVs measuring up to 18.55m to use the roads.  

What are the benefits? 

Roads minister Richard Holden says that “these new vehicles will provide an almost £1.4billion boost to the haulage industry”.  

The new longer semi-trailers (LSTs) will be able to transport the same volume of goods as the current lorries in 8% fewer journeys which will reduce road congestion and CO2 emissions, as well as increasing road safety.  

Some more good news, is that the LSTs will be subject to the same weight restrictions as conventional lorries – 44 tonnes – so there will be no major roadworks to accommodate the new lorries.  

What are the concerns? 

The LSTs will have a larger tail swing, meaning the rear end of the lorry will cover a bigger area when turning, which increases the size of blind spots.  

This has raised several concerns over the safety of pedestrians, cyclists, other drivers and road infrastructure. However, the Department for Transport (DfT) found that, over an 11-year trial, LSTs were involved in “61% fewer personal injury collisions than conventional lorries”, making them safer than current lorries.  

There is also the concern of how the LSTs will fare on smaller roads. Major motorways and A-roads are often closed for repairs, which causes traffic diversions to smaller, and often bendy, roads. Conventional lorries can struggle on these roads, so it stands to reason that LSTs will face the same struggle.  

Norman Baker, a member of the group Campaign for Better Transport, says that “the Government should be working to ensure more freight is moved by rail” as it’s a cleaner and safer alternative.  

The director of police at Rail Partners, John Thomas, points out that rail freight growth can bring “nearly £5.2billion in economic benefits” with a single freight train able to carry the same volume of goods as 129 lorries.  

If you want more information about road safety, check out our blog on motoring information for 2023. 

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