FTA tries to calm down longer trailer argument

Tunbridge Wells, UK: The Freight Transport Association has called on the government to take a “level-headed approach” on longer semi-trailers following a suggestion by Freight on Rail that longer vehicles could lead to more road deaths and put small hauliers out of business.

The Campaign for Better Transport and Freight on Rail argued on the day the consultation closed (Tuesday 21 June) that government plans to allow longer lorries on UK roads could lead to more road deaths and put small hauliers out of business.

However, research by the Freight Transport Association suggests that high volume semi-trailers will deliver efficiency and carbon savings for companies by cutting of vehicle mileage. But not all sectors will migrate to these vehicles the FTA says. It will mostly benefit those businesses such as retailers, parcel companies and manufacturers of high volume, low weight products where existing 13.6-metre trailers become full before they reach their gross weight.

Simon Chapman, the FTA’s chief economist, says: “All the evidence we have had from our members has reinforced FTA’s view that high volume semi-trailers are good for the environment and good for business.

“For high volume, low density loads, the extra deck space offers improved productivity and fewer vehicle journeys.

“High volume semi-trailers would also have a positive effect on road safety, with overall HGVs mileage reduced and the potential for operators to specify the latest on-road safety technology and mirrors for vehicles.”

The proposals for high volume semi-trailers are an important way in which the government is supporting industry’s own efforts to decarbonise its supply chains and reflects the FTA’s argument that government effort needs to focus on working with industry rather than imposing regulation and taxation on it as a way of cutting carbon emissions.

Chapman says: “The vehicles being considered are no longer than drawbar trailer combinations already on the road, and the proposals are not a stalking horse for increased HGV weights in the UK.”