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EU reaches agreement on truck Weights and Dimensions Directive

15 December 2014

The European Council and the European Parliament have reached an agreement on the amendments of the Weights and Dimensions Directive 96/53/EC for heavy-goods vehicles that will allow more aerodynamic and safer truck bodies. However, the more aerodynamic trucks will not be allowed until 2022—seven years after the entry into force of the amended dimensions rules.

Under the agreement, the new standards will become effective only after the adoption of new safety standards (Regulation 661/2009) for the re-designed trucks. The European Commission will propose the new safety rules in 2016, and the regulation is to be finalized in 2019. Once the safety standards are final, the new truck dimension rules will enter into force after a three-year moratorium, i.e., the new, aerodynamic and safer trucks could appear on the road in 2022 at the earliest.

The new rules have been delayed due to heavy lobbying pressure from some heavy-duty truck makers. Some of the truck makers called for an even longer delay, arguing that a quick introduction of the new design rules could affect competition due to the long lifecycle of trucks. “The three year lead time may be challenging for European commercial vehicle manufacturers to meet,” stated vehicle manufacturers grouped in ACEA. The delay was criticized by the Transport & Environment group, who noted that “the absurd and unprecedented decision to impose a ban on new lorry designs until 2022 casts a dark shadow over the agreement.”

Under the original Commission proposal, it was envisioned that the new trucks could be expected on the roads as early as 2018.

Current EU rules on weights and dimensions of trucks impose limits on the overall length of the rig (not just the trailer, as it is the case in North America), indirectly restricting the length of cabins, which explains why European lorries have blunt, brick-shaped cabin fronts. The new rules will allow cabs with a rounded shape and foldable aerodynamic devices at the back of the trailer, to improve the aerodynamics of vehicles and saving fuel. The European Commission estimated that the proposed changes could enable a 7–10% reduction in fuel consumption and GHG emissions.

The new, rounded cabins would also improve safety by providing better visibility for truck drivers and reducing the number of traffic accidents, including accidents with pedestrians and cyclists.

Source: European Council