Longer lorries could arrive on the roads of the UK next year as part of a drive to reduce emissions from transport. The elongated heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) are being encouraged by the Department for Transport (DfT), which says they could cut lorry traffic by up to an eighth.

According to the DfT, the new longer semi-trailers (LSTs) are safer and more eco-friendly than their conventional counterparts. With each trailer measuring up to 15.65 metres in length, It’s estimated LSTs could cut UK freight journeys by an eighth, simply by carrying the same amount of cargo in fewer lorries

The plans follow a successful nine-year trial, which saw an eight-percent reduction in miles covered by freight, plus a 6.2-percent reduction in pollutants emitted. The DfT also claims the use of LSTs cut the number of traffic collisions, suggesting the longer trucks may be safer than their shorter counterparts.

Traffic on British motorway with HGVs

The government has also polled the logistics industry on the move, and it says more than half of those surveyed (57 percent) said LSTs “should be in general circulation”. As a result, the DfT will now consider the use of LSTs outside trial conditions, with the trailers expected sometime in 2022.

Although the government says the longer trailers offer safety benefits, the DfT is also considering ways to make the trailers even safer. The department says “additional mitigations are under review” as it attempts to ease any concerns motorists and other road users may have.

HGV and bicyclist share the road in London

At the same time, the government is also planning to launch a separate trial that will see heavier-than-normal, 48-tonne lorries go under the microscope. Roughly 10 percent heavier than the current maximum permissible truck (44 tonnes), the new vehicles are designed to transport heavier containers.

It’s hoped this will allow HGVs to carry heavier goods directly to and from rail depots, allowing the goods to make most of their journey on a train. That way, the government hopes to reduce the number of trucks on the road, thereby reducing traffic, pollution and potentially even improving safety.

“This government is committed to fighting climate change and decarbonising our transport network, and we are working at pace to achieve net zero by 2050,” said Transport Secretary Grant Shapps. “Today’s announcement is a vital step forwards as we work to introduce more environmentally friendly freight to our roads and build back greener.”