The government is seeking views on extending the longer semi-trailer pilot, despite the latest annual report revealing that the full allocation is still not running on UK roads.

According to the fourth annual report, 1,674 of the full allocation of 1,800 longer semi-trailer permits were in use as of July 2016; an increase from the 1,511
at the end of 2015.

The DfT said another 100 longer semi-trailers have either been issued with their vehicle special orders, required to use a longer trailer on the public highway, or are currently in build.

With the full trial allocation almost reached, the DfT has also started “consulting trade associations and participants on whether to increase the number of vehicles in the trial”, as well as seeking views on whether the trial should be extended.

Since December 2015, the number of operators with longer semi-trailers on the road has increased from 151 to 163, and the report predicted that operating longer semi-trailers had saved up to 10.6 million vehicle km since the trial began in 2012.

The report added: “There is no evidence that the safety risk from longer semi-trailers is worse than that of normal HGV trailers.”

Transport minister John Hayes said: “Lorries are the engine of our economy and this pilot scheme is helping hauliers deliver the day-to-day goods we need more efficiently.”

FTA director of policy Karen Dee said: “We are pleased the report is demonstrating that longer semis have a good safety record. In addition, the improved efficiencies they offer are reducing the overall number of HGV journeys.”

"These types of developments will continue to play an essential part in efforts to tackle climate change and improve air quality.”

Dee added: “Almost three quarters of goods movements are carried by road rather than by rail or water. We need to maximise the use of rail and water freight as part of making the UK’s supply chain as efficient, clean and safe as possible, but they can never replace road – that is why we need to maximise the efficiency of road freight as well as the other modes.”