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In my opinion: Keep on trucking or life as we know it would grind to halt

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 19, 2014

By Mike Wallington, Launceston

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I couldn’t let the question “Should the number of huge articulated lorries be reduced to cut emissions?” (WMN letters, Feb 6) pass without response.

The question was posed after a letter was published from Dave Grylls asking if we should “consider banning all these continental HGVs with one or two trailers, belching diesel fumes all over the motorway”.

Incidentally, two-trailer operation is not legal (in the UK) and therefore does not happen.

As for “belching out diesel fumes”, all new trucks registered from the beginning of this year have to meet strict Euro 6 emission standards, and consequently operate even cleaner than vehicles with gas engines.

In fact, there are quite a few cities in the world where driving a truck with a Euro 6 engine would actually clean up the air! And Euro 6 engines are around 5-6% better on fuel than previous Euro 5 engines. Do not target trucks – they are actually incredibly efficient.

In 1960, a 24-tonne truck had a payload of around 15 tonnes and would do around 8mpg. Today, a modern 44-tonner will carry around 28 tonnes, achieve around 9-10 mpg and has cut out 99% of particulate and NOx emissions.

There are around a fifth fewer trucks on our roads today than there were in 1950 but 13 times more cars. Trucks don’t cause congestion, they suffer

from it.

Compared with 2007, there were 11% fewer trucks on our roads last year, but the amount (tonnage) of goods they carried and the miles they travelled was much the same.

Remember, one truck goes to a supermarket and delivers its goods, 300 cars go in and take the same goods out.

Eighty-six per cent of operators run fewer than five trucks, and fuel makes up around 40% of a modern

44-tonner’s operating costs.

But 51% of road transport operators made fuel economy improvements in 2013, thanks mainly to the increased use of vehicle telematics, better aerodynamics and improved driver training.

Mr Grylls comments about spending more on (rail) investment – indeed taking freight off the roads and on to railways is often called for by the pro-rail lobby. Unfortunately, we live in a relatively small country with an ageing rail infrastructure. The reason current freight trains run mainly at night is because they are slow, and risk holding up passenger/commuter trains during the daytime. The inadequacies of our rail system, especially to the west of Bristol have been brutally exposed recently.

When will the general public understand that a fully laden 44-tonne truck running at 56mph on Britain’s motorways is a good thing, not a bad thing?

Yes, I drive a truck for a living, driving for eight or nine hours each day, often through extreme weather conditions (the last couple of weeks being particularly challenging), carrying food and drinks, construction materials for new housing, finished goods for export, white goods and other products for economic growth, to help Great Britain PLC function and prosper.

And I am tired of mis-informed people attacking the road transport industry in this country.

Without trucks, everyday life as we know it would soon grind to a halt. Within days. Think about it.

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