Longer, heavier trucks to reduce emissions and boost safety, given a 'yes' vote

Draft truck design rule changes, which will allow manufacturers to exceed current EU maximum length and weight dimensions, moved one step closer today (Tuesday 18 March) having received a 'yes' vote from MEPS on the Transport Committee of the European Parliament.

The draft regulations will allow longer truck cabs if they are designed to slash emissions - for example by improving aerodynamics - or to prevent accidents, such as reducing blindspots or the use of more rounded cabs to push people clear of the vehicle in the event of a collision.

Aerodynamic flaps up to 50cm wide would be allowed at the rear of the truck to reduce drag and emissions, while to encourage take-up of low-carbon LGVs, which often carry a weight penalty, vehicles would be permitted to exceed the current maximum weight by up to one tonne.

A boost has also been given to intermodal transport, as the draft rules will allow for trucks used in combined road-rail or road-ship transport operations to be made 15cm longer to facilitate the loading of standard 45ft containers, used all across Europe.

Lead MEP Jorg Leichtfried said: “The draft rules would allow designers to put better trucks on the road that improve road safety and reduce environmental damage.”

He added that the controversial issue of ‘megatrucks’ being allowed to operate across Member State borders will need further investigation by the EC before a decision is taken.

“On the issue of ‘megatrucks’, Parliament has always asked the European Commission for a proper impact assessment. By deleting the parts of the legislative proposal on cross-border circulation for longer vehicles, we reinforce this position.

"The Commission will be asked to review the situation and report back to the Parliament and the Council by 2016.”

Now the draft regulations have been given the green light by MEPs, they will face a full vote of the European Parliament on 13 April.

Commenting on this week’s vote, ACEA, the vehicle manufacturers’ trade association, calls for the extra cab space to be available not just for safety and aerodynamic purposes but also to house new fuel-saving technology such as waste-heat recovery systems.

  • Commercial Motor will feature an analysis of what the vote means for the future of truck design and haulage in our next issue (27 March).