The Government has announced it is to extend a trial which is investigating the environmental and safety impacts of using of longer, semi-trailers for articulated goods vehicles.
Launched in January 2012, the DfT’s Longer Semi-Trailer (LST) trial has been extended to provide a longer reporting period and make the final results ‘more robust’.
While the move has been backed by the Freight Transport Association (FTA), who described the trial as ‘hugely successful’, both the Campaign for Better Transport (CfBT) and the Local Government Technical Advisers’ Group (TAG) have criticised the decision.
At present, the number of LSTs involved in the programme stands at around 1,800. Last week’s announcement will see an additional 1,000 vehicles used and the trial period extended by five years.
Longer lorries trial is a win-win: DfT
07 September 2016
An evaluation report, published in September 2016 by the DfT, suggests that LSTs make a significant contribution towards reducing overall HGV miles, with subsequent environmental benefits, and pose no greater safety risk than normal HGV trailers.
The evaluation says the use of LSTs to transport goods between warehouses and depots has saved up to 10.6m vehicle kilometres, or 90,000 journeys. The report also found that the longer lorries have been involved in around 70% fewer collisions and casualties, per kilometre, compared to the average for standard articulated lorries.
Andy Mair, FTA’s head of engineering, said: “FTA fully supports any increase in the total number of LSTs under trial, as these types of initiatives will play an important part in the logistics industry’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions.
“Through this trial, industry and Government are working in partnership to understand the benefits – in terms of reduced mileage and therefore emissions – of the larger vehicle type, while keeping a very close eye on safety.”
However, the CfBT and TAG say the decision to extend the trail is based on ‘incorrect research’ and have urged the Government to restrict the use of LSTs on urban roads, on safety grounds.
Martin Sachs, secretary of TAG national transport committee, told Transport Network: "The DfT needs to work with local authorities, who are responsible for nearly 98% of the road network, to find a way to minimise the impact of these 7ft longer trailers, particularly on urban routes.
"We need to ensure that there are no increased risks to the safety of other road users and that roadside property and highway infrastructure are protected."
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