Traffic issues are probably the biggest source of stress in the life of an owner driver. Roads that are blocked due to construction can have a massive impact on the amount of time lorry drivers have to spend on the road. The government’s lane rental scheme has been devised as a technique to decrease the road congestion caused by construction. To date, the industry jury is out on whether it will be fit for purpose.
What Is the Lane Rental Scheme?
The strategy was scheduled to come into action in late 2019 after the trial scheme conducted in the south-east proved to be a success in decreasing road congestion. The scheme will levy a charge on utility companies who block busy roads during peak hours to carry out engineering work. By ‘renting’ lanes to utility companies at a rate of £2,500, the government aims to discourage them from digging during busy road times.
If the lane rental scheme proves to contribute towards a reduction in the levels of congestion that costs the United Kingdom so much in lost revenue every year, transport and haulage associations, like the Road Haulage Association (RHA) and Freight Transport Association (FTA), hope that the money earned from the lane rental scheme will be invested into road network maintenance. This could provide lorry drivers with a win-win situation: fewer traffic jams caused by utility company maintenance and higher-quality roads that improve delivery efficiency.
However, there are many in the haulage industry who have a less rosy prognosis for the new scheme. They foresee that utility companies may quickly learn to turn one aspect of the legislation into a loophole for exploitation. Emergency repair work will not incur a lane rental charge, and there are fears that companies will simply let their infrastructure decay to such an extent that the repair becomes an emergency.
An increase in unplanned work that closes road lanes – plus a loss of potential revenue from the rental fees – could unravel the whole plan. The negative impact on delivery work is even greater when the road works are unscheduled and uncoordinated.
Wait and See
In reality, the practicalities of the scheme and its success once implemented on a nationwide scale can only be assessed after the legislation comes into force. In the meantime, drivers are always recommended to consider a variety of ways to mitigate the costs and inefficiencies of getting caught up in the heavy congestion of the UK’s road networks. If traffic jams are unavoidable, it is probably worth taking on a return load for every job so that you can squeeze as much out of each trajectory of your journey as possible. Return loads can be sourced on freight exchange platforms and put lorry drivers in control of their profit margins, leaving them less at the mercy of road cones and temporary traffic lights.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting logistics professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching loads and return loads with available drivers. Over 5,000 member companies are networked together through the Exchange to fill empty capacity, get new clients and form long-lasting business relationships.