How HGVs have an impact on the environment


When you think about the environment in terms of road traffic, you might start imagining exhaust fumes and CO2 emissions. But it doesn’t end at air pollution – there are several other aspects of the world around us that are affected by vehicles. What’s more, HGVs understandably have a greater impact than other vehicles on the road, giving Transport Managers a fair bit to think about.

Air pollution

There’s no two ways about it – vehicles produce air pollution. Checking the legislation placed on companies and their vehicles is vital to make sure you know just how much of an environmental impact they have. The levels of emissions from HGVs are considerably higher than anything else on the road, and with those higher levels come increased costs from fuel and road tax.

The increased use of fossil fuels means that HGVs account for around one-fifth of the UK’s total carbon emissions each year. Of course, the financial incentives of lower road taxes and cheaper “clean” fuels are there to encourage greener operations. Reduction of pollution like this may even be necessary to comply with the conditions of a company’s environmental policy, according to ISO 14001.

Noise pollution

HGVs can also be considerably loud when in transit, potentially creating a disturbance or annoyance for local residents. Noise levels are taken into account by Traffic Commissioners in order to calculate the all-round environmental impact of individual vehicles and fleets. Further to this, local authorities can also monitor noise pollution to ensure that commercial vehicles in the area operate within acceptable limits.

Thankfully, commercial vehicle production has come a long way in recent years Now the latest specification vehicles incorporate methods to reduce excessive noise from engines and breaking systems. Not only does this improve public attitudes towards HGVs and other commercial bodies, but less strain on the engine and breaking can also help to reduce driver fatigue.

Spillage and waste

Certain chemicals and substances can pose as environmental hazards, along with waste materials if not properly handled. The Control of Pollution Act is in place to enforce safe transportation and disposal of harmful substances capable of impacting on the environment. Vehicles carrying controlled waste, e.g. roadside bin collection, must also register with the Environment Agency in order to operate.

Damage to infrastructure

Even the roads can be unintentionally impacted by HGVs and commercial bodies if not up to scratch. The friction created by heavier vehicles can cause surface wear on the road, and even cause damage to nearby buildings and structures thanks to increased vibration levels. Adding ‘road-friendly’ suspension to vehicles helps to distribute their weight on the road, reducing the risk of damage and also allowing for extra haulage weight than those without suspension.

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