Britain is set to permit the use of longer lorries on its roads

The British government has granted approval for the use of longer lorries on the country’s roads, citing potential benefits in terms of efficiency and reduced emissions for businesses.

The industry has welcomed this decision, stating that it will enable the transportation of more goods using fewer vehicles.

However, a campaign group has expressed concerns about the larger tail swing of these lorries, which could pose risks to pedestrians and cyclists, as the rear end covers a larger area when turning.

Government ministers have assured that the trialled longer lorries, which have been in use since 2011, are safe.

Currently, there are approximately 3,000 such lorries operating, measuring 18.55 meters in length, which is about 2.05 meters longer than the standard size.

Starting from May 31, businesses across England, Scotland, and Wales will be allowed to use these longer lorries.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has stated that these vehicles will enhance productivity for businesses. For instance, bakery chain Greggs, which has been using these lorries since 2013, claims it can carry 15% more goods compared to a standard-sized trailer.

The government anticipates economic benefits of £1.4 billion from this decision and estimates that for every 12 trips, one standard-size trailer will be removed from the road.

Furthermore, it is projected that these vehicles will save approximately 70,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions over a span of 11 years.

The DfT has also noted that the longer lorries have been involved in “around 61% fewer personal injury collisions than conventional lorries.”

The Campaign for Better Transport expressed strong opposition to the decision, regarding it as a “regressive move” that will not address carbon emissions or air pollution.

Norman Baker, a spokesman for the campaign, raised concerns about the increased “tail swing” of the lorries, emphasizing the potential danger they pose to other road users and pedestrians.

He added: “Rather than longer lorries, the government should be working to ensure more freight is moved by rail – an efficient, safe and clean alternative with just one freight train capable of removing up to 129 lorries from our roads.”

According to a report commissioned by the government and published in July 2021, incidents involving longer lorries resulted in injuries to 58 individuals between 2012 and 2020.

Under the newly introduced regulations, operators will be obligated by law to conduct risk assessments and choose suitable routes.

The weight limit for the longer lorries will remain at 44 tonnes, the same as standard trailers.

However, a representative from the Road Haulage Association called on the government to consider raising the weight limit to 48 tonnes, suggesting further enhancements to the policy.

“This will be increasingly important when we roll out zero-emission trucks to compensate for the increased weight from batteries,” he said.