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Road freight industry is more efficient than ever, says DfT

THGV driver, truck driver.

The UK's road freight industry is more efficent than ever as demands on it continue to grow, Department for Transport (DfT) figures show.

The DfT road freight activity statistics for 2015 show the amount goods were transported on the UK’s roads increased 12% to 152 billion tonne kilometres last year, but the logistics industry was able to achieve this with the distance travelled by lorries increasing 9% to 18.4bn km.

Christopher Snelling, head of national and regional policy at the FTA, said: “HGV use was already incredibly efficient, as being able to fill vehicles as much as possible is key to making a profit or keeping costs low. 

"But as people and businesses across the UK demand more, the industry has continued to find increasingly efficient ways of meeting this need.

"HGV use has become almost a fifth more efficient just since 2004.”

The DfT data shows how vital road freight is for the UK supply chain - with three-quarters of all UK goods movements being by road rather than by rail or water.

Snelling added: “We need to do more to maximise the use of rail and water freight as part of making the UK’s supply chain as efficient, clean and safe as possible.

"But they can never replace the need for road freight – that is why the best future will see us maximise the efficiency of road freight as well as the other modes.”

Jack Semple, director of policy at the Road Haulage Association, said: "This is a great performance by a big, diverse industry – and the reasons are dynamism and innovation.”

He said innovations included: 

  • Equipment: for example more high-capacity trailers – both double-decked; and longer trailers under the Department for Transport’s trial of trailers of up to 15.65m (compared with a standard maximum of 13.6m).
  • Operation: with greater collaboration among hauliers through pallet networks and other collaborations, and persuading customers to allow greater vehicle sharing.
  • Information technology: haulage is an IT-driven industry, not only for large firms but also smaller hauliers, allowing more efficient routeing and scheduling.

Semple added: "The road haulage and logistics industry is constantly innovating, although that is often overlooked.

"Large lorries are not only the most productive vehicles on our road but the latest Euro 6 trucks are also ultra-low emission, quiet, and have the most advanced safety systems on the road.

"All this has been achieved despite our roads being the busiest and most congested that they have ever been.

"The roads are the industry’s main place of work and we need to see the roads authorities matching the industry’s improvements, if the UK economy is going to flourish."

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