The industry has expressed concern over Labour’s suggestion that ministers should pull the plug on the longer semi-trailer trial after a report provided little evidence for the dangers.
In response to the document published by the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) and the Local Authority Technical Advisers Group, Labour’s shadow transport minister Richard Burden said longer trailers are “just too big for local streets” and that ministers should instead “focus on shifting freight onto our railways”.
The report looked at the out-swing of a 15.65m longer semi-trailer and said many urban junctions cannot accommodate them without the trailer entering the wrong lane or mounting the kerb while turning. The CBT suggested that longer semi-trailers should be restricted to a limited network of roads, and any cost involved should be “met by the operators who have much to gain from the introduction of longer lorries”.
Road Haulage Association director for policy Jack Semple said: “We would be keen to understand where [the report] is coming from and we will be seeking Labour and the Local Authority Technical Advisers’ Group reasoning and evidence base behind their suggestions.”
Elddis Transport MD Nigel Cook said the haulier does not use its longer semis in urban areas and determined which routes were suitable for them before ordering. “As an industry, we have embraced the trial and there will be a lot of money involved in converting the trucks back to shorter lengths if Labour decides to scrap the trial [if it gets into government],” he said.
Cook added that the trial has proved to be environmentally friendly and he has not heard of any accidents involving longer trucks.
Road accident statistics from the Department for Transport, published last month, showed that only 1.9% (637) of all road traffic accidents in 2012 involved LGVs that were turning. A spokesman said: “Local authorities are able to exclude LGVs from particular roads, including town centres, if they feel they present a safety risk.”