A trial using longer semi-trailers to transport goods between warehouses and depots has saved up to 10.6 million vehicle kilometres over four years, ministers have said.
The Department for Transport (DfT) said the trial, which involves approximately 1,800 specially approvedtrucks, has cut up to 90,000 journeys, leading to cleaner air and reduced congestion.
The trial began in 2012 and ministers are consulting on whether to increase the number of vehicles in the trial, as well as extending it.
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.
‘This is good news for consumers, a boost for motorists as it is helping cut congestion with fewer vehicles on the road and it is also helping the environment.’
The trial uses lorries that are up to 15% longer than standard 13.60 metre vehicles, but still meet the existing manoeuvrability requirements and maximum weight limit of 44 tonnes for 6-axle vehicles.
The DfT said the economic benefits of the project are estimated at £33m over the next 10 years, with British hauliers saving up to one in 9 journeys, although the average saving across all operators was one in 19 journeys.
Officials said the new lorries are safer and have been involved in around 70% fewer collisions and casualties, per kilometre, compared to the average for standard articulated lorries.
However, the Campaign for Better Transport warned that the vehicles pose a significant road safety risk and should be restricted in towns and cities.
Philippa Edmunds, Freight on Rail manager, said: ‘The Government is continuing to ignore the danger posed by these longer lorries on urban roads. Our concern is that these longer trucks will become the new standard trucks operating on all roads, regardless of the dangers to other road users.
‘We want to see the Government limit their use to designated local authority routes within urban areas to reduce the risks to other road users, protect pavements and property from damage, and reduce the current financial burden of repairs that currently falls on local authorities and taxpayers.’
The fourth annual report on the trial (2015) is online.