National Organisation of Residents Associations


NORA Response to Proposals to allow length of lorries
to increase to 18.5 metres



The members of the National Organisation of Residents Associations (NORA) represent over a million residents in England and Wales, and they are consulted on the need for responses to government consultations that might affect residents. Accordingly this consultation paper was circulated by email to its members, and as a result of their concerns this response was prepared.

The proposal to allow a further increase in the length of articulated lorries is of prime concern to residents, because of the hazards experienced where long vehicles are undesirable. Accordingly NORA’s response is confined to Question 16, since the other questions appear to be entirely relevant to companies operating lorries.

Q16. The Impact Assessment assumes that there will not be a need for significant changes to road infrastructure from the introduction of high-volume semitrailers, as the overall length would not exceed that of a rigid truck / drawbar trailer combination already allowed on the UK’s roads. Do you agree that this is a valid assumption? If not, please give your reasons: eg are there potential constraints with loading bays? or at lorry parking facilities?


The consultation paper indicates that current legislation allows ‘standard rigid truck / drawbar trailer combination with an overall length 18.75m’ to use UK roads. These vehicles are uncommon, seen on motorways and rarely on single carriageways. Other types of ‘standard articulated lorry’ are limited to a length of 16.5m, and these are seen on all types of road.

Current problems

There are currently serious problems with the latter type of lorry up to 16.5 metres long. The problems come under three main headings. Increasing their possible length by 2 metres can only increase the problems both in number and severity.

Unsuitable roads

When long vehicles of 16.5 metres are seen on rural roads and historic town centre streets, which are narrow and tortuous, damage to the carriageway, its infrastructure, hedges, pavements, other vehicles on the road and even adjacent properties is likely to occur. When the shape of the road prevents further progress, congestion is inevitable and occasionally extra help is required to rescue the vehicle. This already happens.

Although highway signage can be installed stating ‘Not suitable for long vehicles’, these notices are scarce. Furthermore they are not infrequently ignored with serious consequences. The widespread use of satellite navigation devices designed for cars but also used by lorry drivers results in drivers of long vehicles leaving major roads and driving on narrow roads as ‘short cuts’ causing chaos and damage to these minor roads and adjacent properties.

Inadequate parking

Problems are also experienced when long vehicles are used for deliveries in congested areas where parking provisions are currently inadequate to accommodate long vehicles. This is already a serious problem with damage to pavements, damage to legally parked vehicles, congestion and obstruction to traffic in high-density residential areas when long vehicles are used to deliver to supermarkets in these areas. Requests to lengthen parking spaces for loading and unloading often cannot be granted, because the road structure does not allow such extensions. This does not deter long vehicles from using inadequate loading bays, and they then cause considerable congestion.


Cyclists are greatly at risk from long lorries especially at traffic lights when lorries turn left but also when they are overtaken by long vehicles, because the drivers do not see them. Serious injury and deaths are regularly reported by the media.

Impact assessment

Any profit likely from the extension in length of lorries will accrue to the owners and their customers. The cost of repairs to property and to the highway falls on local authorities and the community either directly or through increases in council and other taxes and insurance premiums. The cost of injury and death of cyclists is incalculable.


If there was some way of confining long vehicles to those roads that can accommodate them and away from cyclists, there might be some arguments in their favour. It would restrict their access to motorways and dual carriageways between the ports and depots. They would be totally unacceptable on single carriageways and in towns and villages. If this could be implemented and enforced, then perhaps the increase in length of 2 metres might be acceptable. The problem would remain with foreign lorries driven by those not understanding the restrictions or not prepared to recognise them.

Otherwise NORA foresees an increase in the damage and hazard to the highway, to infrastructure, to verges and pavements, to other traffic, to property adjacent to roads and to cyclists. A considerable increase in congestion would be inevitable wherever they were allowed to go.

Accordingly NORA objects strongly to the proposal to increase by 2 metres the length of lorries allowed on our roads on the grounds that their use would need to be so limited that their benefit would be doubtful, and, if this limitation is not enforced, the increased hazard to property, to carriageways including pavements and infrastructure, to cyclists and to other road traffic would make them unacceptable.

June 2011                                                Alan B Shrank - NORA chairman