Position Paper: Proposal to Amend Maximum Weights and Dimensions of Vehicles

  • October 22, 2013

The European Commission has proposed a revision of Directive 96/53/EC which prescribes the maximum permitted weights and dimensions for vehicles using the road networks in the European Union. The proposal will grant derogations from the maximum dimensions of vehicles for the addition of aerodynamic devices to the rear of vehicles and give the possibility to redefine the geometry of the cabs for tractors. The derogations must meet certain requirements, one of which is not to increase the load capacity of vehicles. The requirements will aim to ensure compliance with road safety rules and the constraints imposed by infrastructure and traffic flow.

The proposal offers an opportunity to improve road safety by streamlining of the cab, allowing a reduction of the driver’s blind spots. This has the potential to save the lives of vulnerable road users (VRUs) whom the driver does not always see when making manoeuvres. A new cab profile could also incorporate energy absorption structures in the event of a collision and could potentially save the lives of and injuries to car occupants as well as VRUs. Other elements include provisions to enable national inspection authorities to better detect infringements and harmonise administrative penalties that apply to them. The European Commission will also publish guidelines on inspection procedures to ensure harmonisation of inspection methods between all Member States. It will also be able to adopt delegated acts covering procedures for the establishment of the test certificate. At present, this legislation is mere enabling legislation. ETSC would support a move to introduce coverage of full type approval legislation in the medium term.

ETSC strongly supports the need for the front end design of large trucks to be improved to reduce the current risks to both car occupants and VRUs.

This position refers solely to the elements in the proposal linking to the potential redesign of the truck. The proposal also states that “the cross-border use of longer vehicles is lawful for journeys that only cross one border, if the two Member States concerned already allow it, and if the conditions for derogations under Article 4(2), (4) or (5) of Directive 96/53/EC are met.” For ETSC’s position on allowing LHVs to cross international borders refer to ETSC’s Position published in 2011. This paper concluded that; ETSC has serious concerns about the impact of LHVs on transport safety in general, and road safety in particular. Depending on the operational conditions, several safety aspects would need to be addressed at high societal costs in order to maintain the current level of risk in road traffic of these vehicles and of other road traffic participants. As long as all safety issues are not properly addressed, and in the absence of evidence that likely positive impacts are outweighing negative ones, ETSC would not recommend a modification of the Directive which would allow LHVs to circulate across national borders in the EU.