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EU to allow longer, heavier, environmentally friendly lorries

Brussels, Belgium: The European Commission is proposing to grant derogations from the maximum dimensions of vehicles to allow for aerodynamic devices to the rear of vehicles or to redefine the geometry of the cabs for tractors.

The new EC proposals on its review of Directive 96/53/EC concerning weights and dimensions of commercial vehicles, as it will improve fuel efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions by 7-10%, leading to more efficient and greener road freight transport operations, while improving road safety through new vehicle design allowing for better driver visibility and increased driver comfort.

“These derogations open up new prospects for manufacturers of tractors, lorries and trailers but must meet certain requirements, one of which is not to increase the load capacity of vehicles,” the commission says.

The move it to take advantage of reduced fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions that such design changes provide. It also wants streamlining of cabs to improve the drivers’ field of vision and measures to improve drivers’ comfort and safety.

The proposed directive also plans for a weight increase of one tonne for vehicles with an electric or hybrid propulsion to take account of the weight of batteries or the dual motorisation. The weight increase is without prejudice to the load capacity of the vehicle.

The amendment of Directive 96/53/EC will facilitate the development of intermodal transport by allowing a derogation of 150mm in the length of trucks carrying 45-foot containers, which are increasingly used in intercontinental and European transport.

The proposal also confirms that cross-border use of longer vehicles is lawful for journeys that only cross one border, if the two Member States concerned already allow it.

The Commission will define the technical standards for onboard weighing devices that can communicate with the inspection authorities, particularly the standards for the electromagnetic communication interface. This will encourage the spread of such devices. They offer the additional advantage of enabling drivers to better control the weight of their vehicles.