A new report from road charity Brake which suggests the amount of freight being transported on motorways is making drivers fear for their safety is not ‘reflective of reality’, said the Freight Transport Association.
The Brake-commissioned survey of 1,000 drivers found more than three-quarters believe too much freight is being transported on motorways while more than a quarter of drivers thought it highly likely or likely that they would be involved in a fatal or serious crash on a motorway or dual carriageway at some point in the future.
The survey also found that more than three quarters of drivers believe that truck platooning “sounds frightening”, even after having the nature of the technology explained to them, and that “if it went wrong the casualties could be very high.” Drivers also expressed doubt over all-lane running, as when asked if using the hard shoulder as a driving lane would improve safety, a third agreed.
The Government’s Road Traffic Estimates: Great Britain 2017, published at the beginning of July, shows that lorry traffic on motorways reached a new peak of 7.9 billion vehicle miles in 2017. According to the government figures, the size and weight of lorries is also increasing - traffic of lorries with four or more axles was 44% higher in 2017 than in 1997, whereas for lorries with less than four axles it had fallen by 27%.
Phillipa Edmunds, freight on rail manager, Campaign for Better Transport, said: “Drivers’ fear of freight on our motorways is well founded, with the latest Government figures showing that HGVs are almost three times more likely than cars to be involved in fatal crashes on these roads. Transferring more freight to the railways is a key part of making our roads safer, cleaner and less congested so we urge the Government to take note of this report’s important findings.”
However, FTA, the UK's largest membership association in the logistics sector, said HGVs have never been more motorway-safe suggesting the driver perceptions Brake has focused on are “not reflective of reality”.
“In fact in the last six years the number of people killed or seriously injured in incidents with HGVs on motorways in Britain has reduced by over 15%" commented Christopher Snelling, Head of UK Policy at FTA.
"Contrary to public perception, the amount of freight being transported on UK motorways has only marginally increased (2.6%) over the last 11 years, it has only just reached the pre-recession levels of a decade ago.
"We want to take this opportunity to reassure motorway users that safety is the number one priority of the HGV industry.
"Freight transport provides a vital service to the UK economy, from delivering the equipment needed to keep hospitals running to stocking supermarkets with goods, and motorway travel makes this possible, keeping larger vehicles away from villages and towns served by smaller roads.
“Of course, like all other road users, HGV operators must be vigilant and alert at all times, and take every opportunity to keep Britain's roads as safe as possible - the nation's logistics drivers are subject to the highest level of testing and compliance of any road user, and provide a vital service without which our economy would stall."
FTA cites independent research which shows HGV motorway traffic has only increased by 2.6 per cent in 11 years, and motorway accidents involving these vehicles has fallen significantly.
Figures taken from Road Traffic Statistics and Reported Road Casualties reveal:
• In 2016, HGV motorway traffic reached the 2007 pre-recession level of 7.7 billion vehicle miles and increased by 2.6 per cent to reach 7.9 billion vehicle miles in 2017
• The proportional involvement of HGVs in motorway accidents (all severities) has fallen from 13.1 per cent in 2007 to 9.9 in 2016 despite the same amount of HGV traffic on motorways. Involvement in fatal motorway accidents has also fallen slightly over the same period.
• The number of fatalities and individuals seriously injured also shows a downward trend in the past few years. In 2011, 22 people were killed and 41 were seriously injured as a result of motorway accidents (including pedestrians) involving HGVs, by 2016 this number had reduced to 15 and 37 respectively
Posted on: July 19th 2018