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Road transport

What is road transport?

Road transport refers to the movement of goods or passengers on public roads. It is one of the most common forms of distribution, especially over short distances, allowing greater control over the execution time for delivery. This type of transportation is duly regulated by the Traffic Code and the Civil Code of the country where operations are carried out.

What types of vehicles are there for road transport? 

There are different types of trucks classified according to:

  1. Their structure:
  • Rigid: these are usually small and have a one-piece structure; the driver’s cabin is attached to the merchandise transport trailer, with no possibility of separating them. 
  • Articulated: these are larger than the rigid ones and are divided into two separate parts: the driver’s cabin and the trailer where the merchandise is transported. 
  1. Type of merchandise containment:
  • Open-platform truck: they carry the merchandise partially or totally uncovered, and they’re usually used to transport construction materials.
  • Closed container truck: this only has a rear opening for loading the merchandise. They’re usually used for merchandise that can be easily loaded, such as packages. 
  • Curtainside truck (tautliner): these have sides and a roof covered by tarpaulins that can be put on and taken off.
  • Tanker truck: these are used for transporting liquid or gaseous goods or chemical products. 
  • Dump truck: these have tilting trailers to dump merchandise. 
  • Refrigerated truck: this type makes it possible to keep merchandise refrigerated, either by generating cold or by insulating it from the outside temperature.
  • Car carriers: these are designed to move vehicles like cars or motorcycles by road, and they may be open or closed. 
  • Livestock trucks: these are intended to transport animals. They have openings on the sides to allow air to circulate. 
  1. Their weight (according to their Maximum Authorized Mass (MMA)):
  • N1: a truck with an MMA of up to 3,500 kg 
  • N2: trucks with an MMA between 3,500 kg and 12,000 kg 
  • N3: trucks that have an MMA over 12,000 kg 

What are the advantages and disadvantages of road transport?

Road transport for merchandise is one of the main avenues for commercial transactions. The versatility of shipping any sort of merchandise is one of the reasons why it is the best option. It also:

  • Works for short- and medium-distance shipments, making it a fast, economical alternative. 
  • It makes door-to-door delivery possible by loading at the supplier company and taking it directly to the destination company’s warehouse. 
  • It allows moving practically any type of load with safety guarantees.
  • It adapts to schedules and transport routes, permitting the optimization of delivery times. 

However, using this method also entails a set of disadvantages, including:

  • It’s not an option for long-distance international shipments. It’s only possible for neighboring countries. 
  • The cargo volume is limited to an MMA of 12,000 kg, unlike other modes of transportation like rail or sea, which have greater capacities. 
  • There’s the risk of traffic jams, which can delay delivery. However, drivers can use alternate routes so that the delivery time is not affected. 
  • The trucks’ gasoline use makes this mode of transportation one of the most polluting, though more and more companies are outfitting their vehicles to reduce CO2 emissions and become more sustainable. 

How sustainable is road transport?

The transport sector, particularly road freight, continues to grow exponentially. This means that the challenge for large logistics companies is achieving sustainable and environmentally-friendly forms of distribution. 

Reducing dependency on fossil fuels and migrating to gas fuels in order to reduce pollution levels and greenhouse gas emissions are two of the main sustainability goals for road transport. 

In 2005, the European Union developed regulations to open a new category of truck types based on their emission levels:

  • EURO IV trucks: allows emissions of 3.5 g/kWh.
  • EURO V trucks: allows emissions of 2.0 g/kWh.
  • EURO VI trucks: trucks made after 2014 fall into this category, which requires them to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by 80% compared to trucks in the EURO V category.

Besides that, optimizing routes by taking the volume of cargo, the best routes, times, distances, road types, and average speed into account will lead to lower fuel consumption and, as a result, a significant reduction in carbon emissions CO2. It will also make more efficient, less polluting journeys possible. 

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