Earlier this month, the European Parliament’s transport committee considered proposals to allow large articulated lorries, also known as LHVs, megatrucks, or gigaliners, to cross EU borders. ETSC has outlined its primary safety concerns in a new briefing.
LHVs are truck and trailer combinations that are 25.25 meters long, nearly 9 metres longer than typical lorries in Europe, and can weigh up to 60 tonnes. These vehicles are equivalent in length to six passenger cars and weigh as much as a fully loaded Boeing 737-300.
The European Commission’s impact assessment on proposals for broader cross-border use of LHVs suggests that the change could prevent 411 deaths over 25 years (16 lives a year). However, the analysis does not take into account potential growth in Heavy Duty Vehicle (HDV) traffic due to lower transport costs, which could lead to increased demand for road freight. ETSC’s starting point when looking at the latest proposed changes to the directive is that they should lead to an improvement in road safety, not make it worse.
ETSC has expressed serious concerns about the impact of LHVs on road safety. While they have been permitted under certain conditions until now, the effects of broader adoption have not been fully evaluated. ETSC does not recommend allowing LHVs to cross EU borders without addressing safety concerns and demonstrating that the benefits outweigh the risks.
A significant concern is that LHVs may hasten road infrastructure degradation, leading to more frequent maintenance and safety issues. LHVs require adapted infrastructure, which poses challenges in work zones, parking areas, resting areas, and more. Existing truck safety facilities, including barriers, ramps, and lay-bys, are not designed for LHVs.
Fire safety in tunnels is also a concern with LHVs potentially blocking traffic lanes in roll-over crashes. The impact resistance of barriers on bridges crossing above railways may also be insufficient to prevent a collision between an LHV and a train. LHVs can also have difficulty with intersections and might encroach on pavements or cycle paths during turns.
While some advanced safety technology can help mitigate these risks, current technology may not fully address the additional risks posed by LHVs.