Drivers raise motorway safety fears as lorry traffic hits record high

News from Brake
Friday, 13 July 2018
 
The amount of freight being transported on our motorways is making drivers fear for their safety, a new survey of over 1,000 drivers for Brake has found [1]. The findings come as the Government publishes figures which show that lorry traffic on motorways has increased more than 15% in five years, reaching a record high of 7.9 billion vehicle miles in 2017 [2].
 
More than three-quarters of drivers stated that too much freight is being transported on our motorways and have called for further investment in railways to alleviate the pressure on the network. Shockingly, 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. These findings come as the Government is introducing truck platooning trials and all-lane running on our motorways, leading road safety campaigners to decry the prioritisation of capacity over safety.

The Brake survey found that a significant majority of drivers, 77%, 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, only a third agreed.
 
The Government’s “Road Traffic Estimates: Great Britain 2017”, published last week (5 July), shows that lorry traffic on motorways reached a new peak of 7.9 billion vehicle miles in 2017. 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%.
 
Joshua Harris, Brake’s director of campaigns, said:
“At a time when the traffic on our motorways is sharply increasing, these findings show that drivers have a deep-seated and genuine concern over their safety on these roads. Drivers are particularly wary over the increase in freight traffic and it’s clear that trials of truck platooning will only exacerbate this concern. We urge the Government to prioritise safety over capacity and to ensure that any change to our road environment, such as all-lane running, is robustly tested, and the public properly informed, before the roll-out on our roads.”
 
 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.”
 
[ENDS]
 
 
Notes to editors: 
 
[1] Full survey data available in Brake report “Our Strategic Road Network - PT. 2: Smart roads: put safety first”.
 
[2] Road Traffic Estimates, Great Britain 2017, Department for Transport, 5 July 2018
 
 
About Brake
Brake is a national road safety charity, founded in 1995, that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies.  We do this through national campaignscommunity educationservices for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.