DfT may extend longer semi-trailer trial as benefits mount


The government is considering extending the longer semi-trailer pilot, despite the latest annual report revealing that the full allocation is still not running on UK roads.

According to the fourth annual report, 1,674 of the full allocation of 1,800 longer semi-trailer permits were in use as of July 2016; an increase from the 1,511 at the end of 2015.

The DfT said another 100 longer semi-trailers have either been issued with their vehicle special orders, required to use a longer trailer on the public highway, or are currently in build.

With the full trial allocation almost reached, the DfT has also started “consulting trade associations and participants on whether to increase the number of vehicles in the trial”.

It is also seeking views on whether the trial should be extended.

Since December 2015, the number of operators with longer semi-trailers on the road has increased from 151 to 163, and the report predicted that operating longer semi-trailers had saved up to 10.6 million vehicle km since the trial began in 2012.

The report added: “There is no evidence that the safety risk from longer semi-trailers is worse than that of normal HGV trailers.”

Transport minister John Hayes said: “Lorries are the engine of our economy and this pilot scheme is helping hauliers deliver the day-to-day goods we need more efficiently.”

“Road haulage efficiency is vital to the economy and keeping the UK competitive,” said RHA director of policy Jack Semple. “After the Brexit vote, there is an increased awareness that we should be embracing every opportunity for productive innovation, where it is safe to do so.” 

“This report confirms the value of longer semi-trailers,” Jack Semple continued. “It also confirms the RHA’s prediction that there would be no great rush for the new lengths and that take-up would be gradual, with 15.65 metre trailers much the more popular length.

“There are now 151 operators in the trial. But it is clear from our members that both existing longer semi-trailer operators and other hauliers could make good use of more of these trailers, and the government should release more permits to allow them to do so. It should allocate permits, as before, in a way that gives equal opportunity to smaller firms.”

Extended cover could save your business

Operators that fail to put in place extended cover for their used trucks may be putting their businesses at risk, a truck warranty provider has warned.

Robert Dockerill (pictured), CEO of Fleetband Warranty Services, said many commercial vehicle manufacturers offer a one-year warranty but as soon as a truck falls out of the main dealer environment, warranty coverage often gets forgotten about.

“If your car breaks down it is rarely more than a minor annoyance, but if your commercial vehicle breaks down it can threaten the continuance of the business,” he said.

“As extended warranty cover on commercial vehicles is not an accepted norm, the way it is in the car market, it gets overlooked or, worse still, is never discussed.”

Dockerill said many haulage firms buy second-hand trucks because it makes more financial sense than buying new vehicles. “Most second-hand cars come with some kind of extended warranty but most used commercial vehicles come with little or no such coverage,” he said.

This article was published in the 8 September issue of Commercial Motor. Why not subscribe to get 12 issues for just £12?