Longer lorries will hit the roads of the UK next month in a bid to improve air quality and boost the economy. From May 31, articulated trucks will be allowed to tow trailers measuring up to 18.55 metres in length – an increase of 2.05 metres compared with the maximum length currently permitted on UK roads.

According to the Department for Transport (DfT), the new trailers will move the same volume of goods with eight percent fewer journeys than current trailers. This, the DfT claims, will generate an expected £1.4 billion in economic benefits and will effectively take one standard-size trailer off the road once every 12 trips.

The decision to allow the longer trailers follows an 11-year trial designed to ensure the imaginatively named ‘longer semi-trailers’, or LSTs, are used safely. With operators legally obliged to ensure appropriate routes, and encouraged to impose extra safety checks and training, the DfT trial found LSTs were involved in 61 percent fewer personal injury collisions than conventional lorries.

Mercedes lorry Actros HGV

Despite their extra length, the new LSTs and their tractor units will be subjected to the same 44-tonne weight limits as standard HGVs, although the new trailers are expected to cause less wear on the roads thanks to their different steering axles. It’s thought the new trailers will create almost £1.4 billion in net economic benefits by ensuring more goods are carried on fewer vehicles.

According to the DfT, some 300 companies have already taken part in the trial of LSTs, and almost 3,000 such vehicles have been used on the road. Brands including Greggs, Argos and Royal Mail are all expected to take on the longer trailers.

HGV passing by on the road

“Everyone around the country depends on our haulage sector for their everyday needs – from loo rolls to sausage rolls – and a strong, resilient supply chain is key to the government’s priority to grow the economy,” said roads minister Richard Holden. “These new longer lorries will make a big difference for British businesses like Greggs, who will see 15 percent more baked goods delivered, from tasty pastries to the nation’s much-loved sausage rolls.

“It’s fantastic to see this change for our supply chain come into law, resulting in a near £1.4 billion boost to the haulage industry and driving economic growth. Let the good times roll as we reduce congestion, lower emissions and enhance the safety of British roads.”