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Viewpoint – “Don’t blame the trucks” – John Watts CAP Automotive

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Advances in truck engineering have dramatically boosted efficiency and safety – but public perceptions of heavy good vehicles are still rooted in the past. That’s the view of John Watts, of Red Book price guide publishers CAP Automotive.  Among the myths scotched by Watts are the common beliefs that trucks are heavy polluters and that they significantly contribute to the increased congestion seen over the past 20 years.

It’s time to set the record straight on heavy commercial vehicles because many of the public’s beliefs simply no longer fit the facts. While many people believe they are dirty, dangerous and cause more than their fair share of traffic chaos, the reality is very different.

John Watts CAP

John Watts CAP

Here are Watts’ top myth-busting facts, setting the record straight about the trucks on Britain’s roads:

Fact: It takes approximately 36 of the latest large trucks today to emit the same NOx (nitrogen oxides) pollutants as one truck registered in 1993.

Fact: The typical 38 tonner 20 years ago achieved 7 mpg, while today’s 44 tonner delivers 9 mpg – a 28% improvement while carrying 20% more payload.

Fact: In city environments, tests have demonstrated that the exhaust emissions from the latest trucks are cleaner than the air going into the air filter.

Fact: Each 44 tonner contributes around £60,000 a year in fuel duty and VAT to the exchequer.

Fact: In 1990 there were around 480,000 trucks in use on UK roads compared with about 415,000 today – a 14% reduction. In contrast there are 53% more vans and 35% more cars on the roads than in 1990.

Fact: Overall car pollution remains about the same as it was in 1990 because the improvements in efficiency are counteracted by the increase in car numbers. In contrast, trucks emit about 5% of the pollutants they were responsible for 20 years ago.

Fact: Research shows that a 44,000Kg articulated combination only takes approximately 20 metres longer to stop from 56mph than a car weighing about 1,500Kg.

Fact: The increase in maximum vehicle payloads to 44 tonnes – from 38 tonnes 20 years ago – has resulted in fewer truck journeys to deliver an equivalent tonnage of goods.

Most people are completely unaware of the incredible efficiency gains of modern heavy commercial vehicles, especially when compared with their counterparts from 20 years ago. The myth that trucks are dirty, smelly and cause the majority of traffic congestion is perpetuated by press stories often using the term ‘juggernaut’ along with an all too common initial assumption that the truck driver was at fault for any accident involving an HGV.

In truth the trucks on our roads are cleaner, safer and more efficient than they have ever been and it’s ironic that while most of us demand instant gratification of our retail desires, the workhorses that make that possible are still so unloved by the public.

About Jason Hodge (1361 Articles)
Editor of Commercial Vehicle Dealer Magazine, Jason has worked in the commercial vehicle industry since leaving university over 20 years ago.