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UK Government urged to back EU moves for safer not bigger HGVs

5 June 2014
European Transport Ministers meet today to agree a position on revisions to HGV legislation (1). Campaign for Better Transport is urging the UK Government to support new EU proposals for safer lorries along with measures to control the use of so-called mega trucks.
 

Philippa Edmunds, Freight on Rail Manger, Campaign for Better Transport said

"Campaign for Better Transport is urging the Government to get behind the new rules for lorries, which would help make them safer and more fuel efficient. Our brick-shaped lorries are well overdue an update and Ministers need to be clear new rules are needed now, not in 10 years as countries including France and Sweden are arguing."

Ministers will also discuss whether mega trucks (vehicles up to 25 metres and 60 tonnes in weight) should be allowed to cross international borders in the EU. Because of their length and weight, mega trucks are involved in more fatal crashes and cause more pollution and congestion than normal lorries. The UK Government's position has so far been to oppose their introduction on UK roads; however if it is serious about stopping mega trucks coming to the UK it  needs to oppose cross border traffic across Europe in this legislation otherwise mega trucks will arrive in the UK by the back door.

Philippa Edmunds said

“Some EU countries are pushing for mega trucks to be allowed to cross borders between countries. The European Commission's own research shows what a dangerous move this would be. The Government needs to be very firm that the current ban on international mega trucks makes sense and that these vehicles will not be allowed on our roads at any point in the future."

Notes

(1) Review of Lorry weights and dimensions directive 96/53 is on the agenda for the 5th June EU Transport Council meeting in Luxembourg.

(2) Safer lorry design
Current EU law on lorry sizes forces the front end of European lorry cabins to be brick-shaped, which reduces the aerodynamics of lorries, making them inefficient and dangerous in the event of a frontal crash, especially for cyclists and pedestrians. The European Parliament voted to give lorry manufacturers more design space for the front end of the cab, allowing a more streamlined nose to make HGVs safer and more aerodynamic.  96/53 is the enabling legislation needed to allow the extra dimensions in the cab to allow for the streamlined design, which gives authority for the detailed analysis to take place in the Vehicle Type Approval legislation.

(3) Lorries are involved in 15 per cent of pedestrian deaths in Britain and nearly a fifth of cyclists deaths. In London they were involved in over a half of all cyclist deaths in both 2011 and 2012 .

(4) On the 15th April 2014, in the European Parliament Plenary Session, MEPs voted overwhelmingly to support safer lorry cab designs and block further international use of mega trucks, pending detailed impact assessment, by the European Commission.