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Why cross border traffic of Mega Trucks should be banned*

Mega Trucks
Mega truck German Trials “©Allianz pro Schiene /Kraufmann /Kraufmann

MEPs must oppose any extension of cross border mega trucks otherwise mega trucks will come to the UK by default. Netherlands, who holds the current EU Presidency, is a big supporter of  cross border mega trucks and has just agreed a Benelux cross border agreement. Even though the UK Government currently says it will not allow mega trucks to circulate in the UK, it will come under huge pressure from the road haulage industry on competition grounds to allow these lorries, once mega trucks are allowed to travel internationally, as there will be a domino effect. Mega trucks will save operators around 15% but it will be society and the economy which pick up the bill in terms of road crashes, road damage, congestion and pollution.

*Scandinavian countries, which have far less dense population ratios than the rest of Europe, were given a derogation to continue using mega trucks when they joined the EU and are now allowed cross border mega trucks circulation.

Mega trucks will lead to more road collisions and more fatalities
Mega trucks present serious road safety dangers because of their mass and dimensions, which cause increased blind spots and manoeuvrability and handling/stability problems, such as snaking. Existing HGVs are six times more likely than cars to be involved in fatal collisions on minor roads.Source: Traffic statistics table TRA0104, Accident statistics Table RAS 30017, both DfT  published 2014 for 2013 figures

Flawed arguments for mega trucks
The case for longer lorries relies on the same mistaken presumption used in the past to justify each increase in lorry dimensions, that there would be fewer but bigger trucks on the roads. In practice however, since the previous increases in dimensions there is no evidence of larger or heavier lorries leading to improvements in average payloads or a reduction in empty running.

The proponents’ case is predicated on mega trucks, which would be fifty per cent longer and up to a third heavier than existing trucks, delivering a significant reduction in vehicle kilometres. The assumptions for safety and environmental improvement depend entirely on the prediction of a dramatic reduction in vehicles kilometres on the premise that 2 mega trucks would replace 3 HGVs.  However, the justification for mega trucks is derived from very high levels of load utilisation – in excess of that routinely achieved within the haulage sector. So until there is a rational basis for all existing HGVs to be used more efficiently it is questionable how assumptions can be made that even bigger trucks will have higher utilisation than existing HGVs.

Currently more than a quarter of lorries are completely empty in the UK and almost 50% of lorries are neitherconstrained by volume or weight, ie partially loaded. When empty and partially loaded, mega trucks will use more fuel per vehicle kilometre because they are heavier than current HGVs.

1. Mega trucks have serious dangers due to their size and lack of manoeuvrability
The European Commission's own research in Jan 2009 stated that mega trucks are individually more dangerous than standard HGVs. – TML Effects of adapting the rules on weights and dimensions of HGVs  P14 penultimate line 6 November 2008 DGTREN website.  The double articulation of a mega trucks increases side to side oscillation ie a “snake” (rear amplification) and problems with other manoeuvres at cruising speeds, for example changing lane on a dual carriageway. There is a conflict here between the manoeuvrability needed in urban areas with a dangerous loss of stability at cruising speeds.

2. Rail freight has a much better environmental record than road
UK rail freight produces 70% less Carbon dioxide  and up to 15 times less nitrogen oxide emissionsthan the equivalent road journey.Jan 200/DfT Logistics Perspective Dec 2008 p 8 section 10

3. In the UK mega trucks would destroy the entire intermodal rail market (ie containers) and 50% of bulktraffic forcing trainloads of freight back onto our congested roads. EU research admitsthat mega trucks would have a detrimental effect on rail freight.Source JRC LHVs  freight transport06/2009 P2.

No mega trucks4. Road haulage industry has a poor record in complying with existing road regulations
UK road side weight checks had a 61% overloading rate SourceFTA Logistics Report  2013
70% of police targeted stops of HGVs in London identified problems – Source TfL

5. Longer heavier lorrieswill cause more road congestion as extra time will be needed to clear junctions and railway crossings whereas the heaviest UK train can removeup to 136 HGVs from our roadsSource Value of Freight Network Rail 2010.

6. Trying to restrict mega trucks to dual-carriageways and motorways will not work -The promoters are claiming that these vehicles will be restricted to motorways, dual carriageways and major roads. These vehicles will need local road access to distribution hubsnoton motorways/dual carriageways.

7. HGVs are up to 160,000 times more damaging to road surfaces than the average car; some of the heaviest road repair costs are therefore almost exclusively attributable to the heaviest vehicles. Taxpayers would have to pay millions for adaptation and maintenance of the road network. The Austrian Government estimated that it would cost over £5bn to adapt infrastructure in Austria in 2009.



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