Written evidence submitted by Logistics UK (RSM0076)

 

About Logistics UK

 

Logistics UK (the new name for FTA) is one of Britain’s largest business groups and the only one providing a voice for the entirety of the UK’s logistics sector. Our role, on behalf of over 18,000 members, is to enhance the safety, efficiency and sustainability of freight movement throughout the supply chain, across all transport modes. Logistics UK members operate over 200,000 goods vehicles - almost half the UK fleet - and some one million liveried vans. In addition, they consign over 90 per cent of the freight moved by rail and over 70 per cent of sea and air freight.

 

Introduction

UK roads are the lifeblood for haulage and logistics. All aspects of modern life rely on the road network to transport goods for our home lives, our businesses, our schools and hospitals.  Without logistics the world as we know it simply wouldn’t exist. More than 80% of goods travel by road and as the economy grows, the demands placed on the road network will only increase. As a result, safety of the road network including smart motorways is vitally important to Logistics UK and its members.

 

Response to inquiry

 

 

Logistics UK’s members support smart motorways as an effective means in reducing congestion and producing more reliable journey times, but safety of the road network is a priority to the sector. Logistics UK welcomed the Department for Transport’s Smart Motorway Safety Report in March 2020 and wholeheartedly supported the extra security provisions which included several measures Logistics UK have long been urging government to deliver, such as the faster rollout of stopped vehicle detection, ending the use of dynamic hard shoulders and shorter distances between emergency refuge areas.

Congestion on the motorway and major road network in England costs an estimated £2 billion every year, with 25 per cent of this resulting from incidents. In addition, congestion has a direct exponential impact on fuel consumption and emissions. According to a leading truck manufacturer, stopping three times per mile and getting back up to 30mph each time triples emissions compared to just cruising at 30mph. Reducing congestion also means the freight industry can do its job more efficiently, potentially reducing the number of vehicles it needs to deploy.

 

Considering the plans in the DfT Smart Motorway Safety Report, Logistics UK welcomes proposals for the dynamic lane model to be replaced with the all lane running model removing the unnecessary confusion for drivers.  This would enable the logistics sector to continue to benefit from the additional infrastructure the lanes have provided. Logistics UK is also pleased government has listened to and responded positively to calls for an increase in the number of refuge areas and the speedier roll-out of the stopped vehicle detection system as these are important safety measures.

Smart motorways can be confusing to even the most experienced professional drivers, so Logistics UK was pleased to see the Government commit to an education and awareness raising campaign. To support education and training Logistics UK has worked with Highways England to produce a course for HGV drivers on how to drive in the managed sections of motorways. Through its Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) training programmes Logistics UK offers a module on smart motorways. One of the core aims of this course is to review and improve driving behaviour based on defensive driving principles and compliance with motorway signs, signals, speed limits, red X markings and use of the hard shoulder. 

Alongside education must be enforcement. Although letters have been sent to operators and drivers who show a persistence in ignoring the rules to help educate those who are not compliant, there is a need to look at how the roads rules are enforced.

Logistics UK understands that the police already have sufficient powers in place to enforce smart motorways, but there is a lack of presence by the police across the whole of the SRN. It is vital that Government, in particular the Home Office, recognise the need to work with the road authorities to resolve enforcement of smart motorway violations. Insufficient enforcement can give the impression that it is OK to flout the rules so Logistics UK calls on Government departments to work together to ensure sufficient resource is available for roads policing; we hope this is something that can be addressed directly by the now extended Roads Policing Review.

 

 

Logistics UK calls for the use of dynamic lanes to be removed and replaced with all lane running on smart motorways. This will enable the logistics sector to continue to benefit from the additional infrastructure the lanes have provided and the lack of congestion.

Whilst Logistics UK supports the development of smart motorways as a means to achieving increased utilisation from existing infrastructure, it is urging the government to view these roads as only a temporary solution to the lack of capacity on the UK’s roads. New capacity and the improvement of existing infrastructure will still be needed to address pinch-points. Businesses rely on effective and efficient road networks to keep goods moving across the UK and our members want to see a nationwide programme of road infrastructure upgrades.

 

 

To increase safety on the road network Logistics UK supports the need for a significant increase in public awareness and education on safe use of the smart motorway network as many drivers find the inconsistent road formats confusing. Whilst truck drivers have the opportunity of accessing training on smart motorways through the Driver CPC, car and van drivers cannot and so public awareness campaigns are very important and welcomed by the logistics sector. Greater awareness of smart motorways and how they operate is of benefit to all drivers. The consultation on changes to the Highway Code is a positive step forward to improve public awareness of how to use the smart motorway network safely.

In addition, Logistics UK is pleased government has listened to and responded positively to calls for an increase in the number of refuge areas along the network and the faster roll-out of the stopped vehicle detection system. Such improvements are welcomed as a means to improve safety and alleviate fears of safety on smart motorways.

 

 

April 2021