Longer lorries to be allowed on Britain’s roads under new law - despite fears it ‘could cost lives’
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The government is set to allow longer lorries on Britain’s roads in a bid to reduce the number of journeys. However, there are concerns that this decision will create greater danger for pedestrians and cyclists, as well as damaging road infrastructure.
The Department for Transport (DfT) announced lorry trailers up to 61ft (18.55m) long which is 6ft 9in (2.05m) longer than the standard size - will be permitted from May 31 under legislation which will go before Parliament on Wednesday (May 10).
Vehicles covered by the new laws have a larger tail swing, meaning that their rear end covers a bigger area when turning, and have extended blind spots. Campaigners say the decision is ‘alarming’ and that most of the trial, which took 11 years, happened on motorways and A roads.
The DfT claim its 11-year trial found the new lorries are safe for use on public roads and were involved in "around 61 per cent fewer personal injury collisions than conventional lorries".
Keir Gallagher, campaigns manager at Cycling UK, told Sky News: "At a time when funding for infrastructure to keep people cycling and walking safer has been cut, it’s alarming that longer and more hazardous lorries could now be allowed to share the road with people cycling and walking.
"Before opening the floodgates to longer lorries rolling into our busy town centres and narrow rural lanes, further testing in real-life scenarios should have been done to assess and address the risks.
He added: "Counting casualties years down the line is the wrong way to conduct road safety policy - yet just like with smart motorways, that’s the risk we face."
Lobby group Campaign for Better Transport has urged the government to rethink its plan, and focus on moving freight via rail, claiming it is an “efficient, safe and clean alternative, with just one freight train capable of removing up to 129 lorries from our roads".
The DfT has said that the new lorries are able to move the same amount of goods as the current trailers in eight per cent fewer journeys, and will ‘provide the world of difference’ for businesses.