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TfL Further Improving Lorry Safety.

7ft longer semi-trailers, being trialled by DfT, are not safe on many of the capital’s urban roads

1. Campaign for Better Transport and Technical Advisers Group (TAG)1 believe that  the  7ft (2.05 metre) longer semi-trailers, in a DfT ten year trial, are unsuitable for many of the capital’s urban roads on safety grounds. Therefore please can you consider the need to make sure that these 7ft longer trucks are only allowed to use urban routes, designated safe by local authorities.
TfL statistics show that existing sized lorries are disproportionately involved in fatal collisions with pedestrians and cyclists in the capital.  

  • Between 2010 and 2014, lorries were almost 10 times more likely to be involved in a fatal collision than cars;
  • Seven of the nine cyclist fatalities in London in 2015 have involved lorries;

When CBT and TAG did a briefing to the London Assembly Transport Chair and Vice Chair in March 2015, both Caroline Pidgeon and Val Shawcross realised how dangerous these vehicles are in urban settings and alongside London Councils, whom CBT had already alerted, wrote to the Secretary of State to voice their joint concerns.

While running 7ft longer HGVs is acceptable on the strategic road network they are not safe on many urban roads due to their lack of manoeuvrability, longer blind spot and longer tail swing for other road users, especially cyclists and pedestrians. Many urban roads are not able to accommodate such large vehicles, forcing them to perform movements that put other, more vulnerable road users at risk such as:-

  • Mounting kerbs or traffic islands
  • Swinging over kerbs, traffic islands or adjacent lanes
  • Entering adjacent lanes, parking bays or footways 

Big lorry - bigger lorry (diagram)

The rear outswing on the longer semi-trailer is 2.1 metres, as compared with 0.9 metres in the case of standard semi-trailers. This longer tail swing is particularly dangerous as other road users may get side swiped as it will not be obvious to them how the back of the lorry will swing out into another lane.

HGVs already have a poor record in relation to cyclists in the capital. According to TfL’s HGV Safety Officer Glen Davies, between 2008 and 2013 55% of cycling fatalities in London involve an HGV while only 3.6 per cent of road miles are carried out by HGVs2 . Government figures also show that existing HGVs are six times more likely than cars to be involved in fatal collisions on urban roads3 across the country.

Additionally, there is already a significant problem with existing sized lorries causing damage to pavements, street furniture and parked cars when negotiating urban roads.( In its consultation document the DfT confirmed that these longer trailers could not meet the performance of the existing 13.6 metre trailers.)

2. The answer – Restriction of  7ft longer trailers to designated authorised local authority routes because of the additional dangers of 7ft longer HGVs to other road users, especially cyclists and pedestrians.

The freight industry needs access to depots and delivery points on urban roads within towns and cities to be able to function; however many urban junctions would simply not be able to accommodate these vehicles as we mentioned earlier. Therefore, we believe it is imperative that the longer HGVs are restricted to designated local authority routes agreed by the local authority and the operator. These designated routes would have been rigorously assessed by appropriate modelling software to ensure that no part of an 18.55 m HGV would pass outside its traffic lane.

And importantly, this analysis should be funded by the operators who benefit from longer trucks, not the local authorities concerned.

3. The Review of the London Lorry Control Scheme is an opportunity to restrict longer semi- trailers to suitable roads.

See video of photos taken by London residents illustrating the problems with existing lorries on certain urban roads -

I can supply a detailed report on the findings of the longer trailer demonstration we attended. DfT is giving TAG and CBT another demonstration in April 2016. 


1. TAG includes the London element LOTAG).

2. Freight Transport Association Journal Summer 2015

3. DfT Traffic statistics table TR0104, Accident statistics table RAS 30017 September 2014

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