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Britain without Double-deck Lorries: An Assessment of the Effects on Traffic Levels, Road Haulage Costs, Fuel Consumption and CO2 Emissions
In developing a new system of Whole Vehicle Type Approval for lorries the European Commission is proposing to standardise the maximum height of trailers at 4 metres. Twenty of the EU25 countries currently impose a 4 metre height limit on trucks. The UK, however, currently has no legal height limit and most of its road network can accommodate lorries up to 4.9 metres high. This has permitted the double-decking of trailers and consolidation of lower density loads in a smaller number of freight deliveries. It is estimated that there are around 7000 of these double-deck trailers in use in the UK, significantly cutting road haulage costs, traffic levels, fuel consumption and exhaust emissions. If implemented, the proposal to limit trailer height to 4 metres would significantly increase the economic and environmental costs of road freight transport in this country. An attempt has been made to quantify the additional economic and environmental costs that would result from the implementation of this measure. The analysis is based primarily on data from the government’s Continuing Survey of Road Goods Transport but also includes information from manufacturers and operators of double-deck trailers. The figures relate to 2008. Because of statistical limitations, the values of several key parameters have had to be estimated. The analysis suggests that the removal of double-deck trailers from UK roads and their replacement by standard height trailers would increase the distance travelled by UK-registered articulated lorries by around 4.5%. Annual road haulage costs would rise by roughly £305 million. Switching from double-deck to standard trailers would increase fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by a mid-range estimate of 64%. In terms of its impact on CO2 emissions, this would be equivalent to adding 151,000 new cars to Britain’s roads.
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