Data requirements and trial evaluation
DfT’s trial of longer semi-trailers is a research project which has been established to monitor, evaluate and understand the use of these vehicles. Operators taking part in the trial must collect data on their use of the trailers and submit it regularly to DfT’s independent trial evaluators, Risk Solutions.
Vehicle special orders for longer semi-trailers
Operators participating in the trial must apply to the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) for a vehicle special order (VSO) to use their longer semi-trailers commercially. Trial participants must sign an undertaking agreeing to certain terms before they apply to VCA. VCA will inform DfT when it issues a VSO to an operator.
Operating longer semi-trailers without a VSO is illegal and may invalidate insurance policies covering the use of these vehicles.
The secondary market for longer semi-trailers
Once participants have obtained longer semi-trailers, they are free to purchase vehicles from each other (the allocation quota moving with the vehicle). A new operator would have to apply for the necessary VSO.
Operators must notify DfT of their intention to purchase a longer semi-trailer from another participant to ensure they meet our allocation criteria.
The allocation itself has no monetary value and must not be bought or sold. Only the vehicle can be bought or sold.
Moving vehicles between sites for demonstration purposes
The Road Vehicle (Authorisation of Special Types) (General) Order 2003 permits longer trailers to be used on public roads for ‘tests and trials’ purposes, without a VSO. Schedule 11, Part 2 of the order gives a more precise definition of what is meant by tests or trials. It defines this term as including the use of vehicles or trailers for demonstration purposes. However, only a court can provide a definitive view of whether a particular activity fits the terminology used in the legislation, so if manufacturers are in doubt they should seek legal advice.
No prior authorisation from DfT is required as long as the use is in accordance with the requirements and conditions set out in the order. Section 38 covers requirements as to length. One of the conditions is that the vehicle is un-laden. Another is that the police should be given 2 clear working days’ notice.
For those companies who hold an ‘O’ licence, the ESDAL (electronic service delivery for abnormal loads) system provides a web-based notification facility.
Manufacturers who do not themselves hold an ‘O’ licence should contact their local police force’s abnormal loads officer, who should be able to advise on the notification procedure.
Northern Ireland and Europe
The trial applies only to roads in Great Britain. Operators wanting to go to Northern Ireland in a longer semi-trailer must obtain an additional VSO from the Department of the Environment Northern Ireland (DOENI). Email email@example.com for details.
The longer semi-trailers do not comply with standards in force in other European member states so cannot be used for international traffic in mainland Europe.