We will soon see longer HGVs on UK roads with a change to regulations allowing longer trailers. Known as longer semi-trailers – or LSTs – they are up to 2.05 metres longer than a standard articulated lorry trailer.

Legislation is set to be implemented on May 31 as part of the Government’s efforts to boost the economy and increase productivity, while also reducing CO2 emissions.

The decision to introduce these longer lorries follows an 11-year trial period to ensure their safe usage on roads. The trial demonstrated that LSTs were involved in around 61% fewer personal injury collisions compared to conventional lorries.

The main advantage of these longer HGVs is that they can move the same volume of goods while requiring 8% fewer journeys compared to current trailers.

According to the Department for Transport, this efficiency improvement is expected to bring about £1.4 billion in economic benefits and remove one standard-size trailer from the road for every 12 trips.

It is estimated that this change will save approximately 70,000 tonnes of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere.

Over 300 companies are already participating in trials and nearly 3000 LSTs are currently on the road. Major brands like Greggs, Morrisons, Stobart, Royal Mail and Argos will be expanding the use of these longer semi-trailers.

“The ending of the trial after 11 years is well overdue. There have been no accidents reported with the 1800 trailers involved that I am aware of so safety is not an issue,” says Steve Hobson, Editor of Motor Transport, the UK’s leading publication for the road transport industry.

Hobson points out that take up of these longer trailers will be limited, even though they are now available to any operator within the remaining constraints, as they are not suitable for the majority of applications.

“While they enable the carriage of up to eight extra pallets which increases the efficiency of road transport they are still limited to 44 tonnes GVW so only benefit operations that cube out before they weigh out. I do not expect the majority of operators to switch en masse to LSTs,” he adds.

Roads Minister Richard Holden expressed his enthusiasm for the positive impact of these longer lorries on the country’s supply chain and economy. He cited the example of Greggs, a well-known British brand, which will see a 15% increase in the delivery of baked goods, including their beloved sausage rolls.

Vehicles using LSTs will still be subject to the same 44-tonne weight limit as those using standard trailers. Additionally, these new vehicles are expected to cause less wear on roads due to the specific type of steering axle they use.

Operators of LSTs will be required by law to develop appropriate route plans and conduct risk assessments that consider the unique specifications of these longer trailers.

They will also be expected to implement extra safety checks, such as driver training, scheduling, record-keeping, training for transport managers and key staff plus the proper loading of LSTs.

The Government has also introduced a plan to address the shortage of HGV drivers and improve recruitment and retention.

This includes providing funding for roadside facilities, offering HGV driver training through skills boot camps, increasing the number of HGV driver tests and launching the Future of Freight plan to encourage more people to pursue careers in logistics.