Goods vehicles that are longer and/or longer and heavier (abbreviated as LHVs in this report) than those currently permitted in the UK are in use, under trial, or being considered, in a number of countries both within the European Union (EU) and elsewhere. The European legislation that controls the maximum dimensions of vehicles, and the maximum weight that guarantees free circulation within the EU, permits trials and the use of these vehicles under certain strict conditions. The legislation is also the subject of a review by the European Commission to consider whether such vehicles should be part of the Freight Transport Logistics Action Plan to improve the efficiency of transport and logistics in the EU by 2010.
In the UK, applications from two hauliers, each wishing to trial an LHV, were refused in 2005. However, interest has grown within the road freight industry both in the UK and elsewhere in Europe. In light of this, and the work of the European Commission, the UK Department for Transport (DfT) decided to undertake research better to inform policy making. TRL, in partnership with the Logistics Research Centre at Heriot-Watt University, were appointed to undertake this research - a formal assessment of the likely combined effects on road safety, the atmospheric and built environment, and the efficiency of freight transport, including the effects on modes other than road transport, if different types of LHV in excess of the current weights and/or dimensions limits were to be permitted in the UK. This involved assessing a wide variety of factors, including but not limited to:
- potential demand for LHV operations
- economic efficiency of such operations
- effect on other freight modes and the potential impact of freight traffic generation
- effect on the frequency and distance of vehicle movements
- effect on safety and accidents
- changes to vehicle emissions and the environment
- effects on infrastructure
- effects on drivers
This enabled the effects to be estimated and compared for eight scenarios, which were used to illustrate different potential regulatory approaches. This report fully describes the findings of the research.