A pilot scheme extending the length of articulated lorry trailers has saved between 75,000 and 90,000 lorry journeys since 2012, said a government report.
“This is good news for consumers, a boost for motorists as it is helping cut congestion... and it is also helping the environment,” said John Hayes, the transport minister.
The Department for Transport (DfT) has licenced 1,764 of the longer trailers to operate on UK roads as part of a 10-year pilot. The trailers are up to 2.05 metres longer than the current 13.6 metre limit. “Despite the bigger size, they will still meet the existing manoeuvrability requirements and maximum weight limit of 44 tonnes for 6-axle vehicles,” DfT said.
By extending the standard trailer length, it hopes companies will be able to deliver the same quantity of goods in fewer journeys without compromising on safety.
In its latest report, DfT said the longer trailers have saved between 8.7m and 10.6m kilometres (6.6m miles) of vehicle travel over the four years the pilot has been running, with participating companies saving on average one in every 19 journeys. The best performing company had saved one in every nine journeys, said the DfT.
A small number of participants had increased the number of miles driven since introducing longer trailers, it added.
Over the course of the pilot, there have been no fatalities involving the longer trailers, and the longer vehicles have been involved in 70% fewer injury causing collisions and casualties per kilometre than standard length vehicles.
However, because most operators use the longer trailers for long distance motorway haulage, there was not enough data yet to determine if they pose a greater risk in urban areas as their standard counterparts, the report said.
Because of the positive results, the DfT is now in consultation with operators on whether to increase the number of vehicles in the trial, it said in a statement.
DfT estimates by the end of the trial, the longer trailers would have created an estimated £33m of economic benefit and saved 3,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions.
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