The Future of the Haulage Industry – What Advancements Can We Expect to See?

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No industry is static, and with this fast-moving world of political and sociological change, it can be difficult to navigate, no matter what industry you are in! This can especially be the case for the haulage industry as it can be affected vastly by changes in international relations; what’s more, as the haulage industry accounts for a fifth of the UK’s employment industry, it is important that it is closely monitored by industry professionals, and that it is adaptable to any changes.

If you think about it, a variety of services and tasks that we do every day depend on haulage. Generally speaking, the definition of haulage is the commercial transport of goods. For example, from going to the supermarket to ordering items online, the haulage industry makes sure that the goods we need get from A to B. Statistics provided by the RHA, the Road Haulage Association, details the extremity of which we rely on haulage; approximately, 89% of all goods that are transported by land in Great Britain are moved by road, and 98% of all food and agricultural products are transported in freight vehicles.

This statistic shows not only the extent to which we, as a society, rely on the haulage industry but also the fact that we are also prone to over-consumption – buying more than we need. As a purely service-driven industry, haulage companies constantly respond to and are at the helm of fluctuating customer demand. With this in mind, what does the future of our society propose for the haulage industry, and what advancements can we expect to see? Read on to find out more.

Looking to the past, a history of road haulage

One of the ways we can predict or prepare ourselves for future changes is to look at how we responded in the past. So, below, is a brief history of haulage to get us started.

The birth of the haulage industry can be traced back to the 19th century, a product of the industrial revolution and the beginnings of mass production. The life-changing invention of the steam engine meant that trains were the main source, and first example of, haulage. The first steam vehicle was built by John Thornycraft in Chiswick in 1895, and it was from this point that goods transported via road became a common occurrence. Infact, during 1903 and 1924 there was a 300% increase and growth of the haulage industry, and by the mid-1920s there were 300,000 haulage commercial vehicles travelling around the UK’s landscapes and cityscapes. This did great things for the development of the UK’s industry as a whole, as it built a whole new flourishing industry and contributed to the UK’s increasingly booming economy.

At this point, the haulage industry looked to be an industry that couldn’t be untainted; however, during both the First and Second World Wars – haulage, and specifically international haulage changed dramatically. The wars created a general distrust surrounding international trade between enemy countries, culminating in stringent trade restrictions and also shortages – hence the rationing.

After the wars, the haulage industry was on the up as international relations improved. Yet, this is not to say that it did not also meet future crises. One of these was that British motorways were not as fully developed as other countries like North America and in Europe, which slowed success.

Another major concern was oil. For instance, during the 1973 oil crisis, where the United Kingdom was penalised for supporting Israel in the Yom Kippur War, there was an oil proclaimed oil embargo. This led to a rise in oil costs that dramatically affected the country and also showed the demand and need for sustainable energy resources. These concerns, though now resolved, showed how the haulage industry needed to change at the time.

Today, the haulage industry employs over two million people in the UK. And, from history, we can predict how the haulage industry would be affected by future changes from international relations to societal changes, and perhaps what advancements will need to be made to ensure that the haulage industry remains steadfast in its success.

A glimpse into how road haulage can change

Driverless Haulage

One of the issues that have affected the motor history is theregulations surrounding road accidents and driver error. Understandably, regulations and laws have significantly tightened around this, especially for persons who drive under the influence of alcohol. However, despite these regulations, accidents can and still do happen. Unfortunately, due to the large nature of haulage vehicles, it can be difficult for drivers to see other motors. Due to this, half of all fatal motor accidents have been caused by HGV’s according to AXA.

This has led to the demand of driverless haulage, which is believed to lessen the statistic of road traffic accidents that have been caused by driver error. Whilst this, alongside other reasons like improved accessibility for a variety of persons, is a positive development in driverless vehicles. However, for the haulage industry, this could potentially lead to employment issues. As, according to the RHA, 2.54 million work within the haulage industry, and it is worth £124 billion to the UK economy.

Sustainable and Renewable Energy Sources

It is no secret that generally speaking, people need to be doing more for the environment. One of these is switching to renewable energy sources and also placing pressure on governments to fund renewable and sustainable energy research. This is because fossil fuels are detrimental to the environment in a variety of ways. From the extraction to the burning, fossil fuels release dangerous levels of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, creating pollution and climate change. What’s more, fossil fuels are finite resources, which makes the need for sustainable solutions paramount. Luckily, advancements have been made in the motor industry, including the development of electric-powered vehicles. For instance, Tesla has been the first company to launch a new electric lorry, and there are plans to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel-powered cars by 2040.  Plus, as mentioned above, oil crises like the oil embargo of 1973 has also culminated in the demand from users for haulage and motor vehicles to rely less on fossil fuels – prompting the need for renewable energy.

Hopefully, in the future, we will start to see more and more electric powered lorries on the roads.

Road developments

According to the RHA, there is also a demand for the improvement of traffic flow. For instance, to make haulage smoother and journeys quicker, there should be advancements made in the technology surrounding informing users over current road conditions. This can make accidents fewer, and likely lessen the occurrence of traffic jams and the waste of precious fuels.


As mentioned previously, as a society we are prone to overconsumption. However, the awareness and knowledge of how this is impacting the environment is increasing, leading to small movements surrounding purchasing less and purchasing sustainable options. This could have a knock-on effect for haulage, as purchases online could decrease; however, some form of haulage would still be required; for instance, transporting goods from warehouses to high street shops. Regardless, this could potentially in the future, result in fewer large scale haulage vehicles on the roads.

International Development

International haulage will largely change due to international relations, which can vary from month to year. It can be difficult to predict what the future holds, however, for British haulage the main international concern is Brexit. This is because Brexit will change the British haulage industry as many exports and imports are with predetermined regulations with European countries – and these are all likely to change.

As Brexit negotiations are continuing, it is difficult to know exactly what the final result will be. However, the RHA is keeping haulage drivers and companies up to date with their guides on preparing for Brexit.

Younger drivers and more women drivers

It may not be surprising that the majority of haulage drivers are of the older generation, and also many of them are male. However, haulage companies want to change this and make the industry more inclusive. For instance, the government is funding apprenticeships and trainee levys to attract younger people into this well-paid industry. What’s more, there is an association called ‘She’s RHA’ developed to improve female representation in the industry and for more women to be included in the haulage advisory boards, be ambassadors for school events, and provide guidance to haulage businesses of how they can diversify their staff.

SG Haulage, Road Haulage Company in Lincoln

Here at SG Haulage, we pride ourselves on being a forward-thinking provider of a comprehensive range of haulage services around Lincoln and Nottingham. Our services include international and national road haulage, heavy haulage, and crane hire. With us, you can be promised exceptional services as we are accredited by leading organisations in the haulage industry, including RHA, ALLMI and FORS, and proudly have over 25 years of experience in the industry. To find out more about our services, contact us today.