EPRSLibrary By / September 17, 2013

Smart design for longer and heavier vehicles (LHVs)

The front design of the future long and heavy vehicles (LHVs)  circulating on European Union roads might undergo a restyling,…

© marchello74 / fotolia

The front design of the future long and heavy vehicles (LHVs)  circulating on European Union roads might undergo a restyling, following the European Commission Proposal presented on 15 April 2013 for a directive amending the so called Weight and Dimensions Directive.  The purpose of the proposal is to allow car industry to develop more aerodynamics LHVs thus ensuring a better road safety. In particular, the new rounded shape oft the front truck aims to increase the field of vision of the driver with positive effects on the visibility of vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists. Furthermore, the introduction of rounded cabin at the front and aerodynamic flaps at the back will also target environmental issues, as better aerodynamics means enhanced fuel efficiency too. The debate has already started: these proposed measures will imply a potential increase in the length of the lorries and some parts call on the Commission to regulate the cross border circulation of those mega lorries.
The current proposal must now be adopted by the European Parliament; the report has been allocated to the S&D group.

See also the Library Keysource Giga-liners and other mega-trucks,

long truck
© marchello74 / fotolia


European Commission: Allow extra-long mega trucks to cross borders / Struenkelnberg, Thomas , In: DPA Insight EU, 2013
This dossier published by DPA Insight EU focuses on the new EU proposal for safer and more environmental lorries. The key points of the proposal to change Directive 96/53/EC as well as the main stakeholders´ views are presented in the article.

Permissible maximum dimension of trucks in Europe   / International Transport Forum, August 2012, 2 p.
This factsheet provides comparative data about maximum allowed dimension of LHVs in European countries and worldwide.

Moving Freight with Better Trucks / OECD, 2011, 361 p.
This report includes the summary results of the performance benchmarking of 39 truck configurations across 10 countries, focusing on the safety and productivity impacts of changes in the configuration of heavy vehicles including weights and dimensions and articulation.


Dimensions and weights of commercial vehicles / Centre for European Policy (CEP), 2013, 4 p.
This briefing provides an economic and legal impact assessment of the proposed changes.

Why increasing HGV length could reduce efficiency, and increase environmental and safety costs / Metropolitan Transport Research Unit, 2012, 13 p.
This report commissioned by Freight on Rail assesses potential impact of longer articulated vehicles on safety and emissions reduction and it concludes that increases in size and weight have not been accompanied by specialisation of vehicle use and efficiency gains.

Smarter, safer, cleaner: How small changes to lorry design can make a big difference / FKA automotive, 2011, 168 p.
This report summarises the research carried out for Transport and Environment on the design of a tractor for optimised safety and fuel consumption.According to the study, changes of the current regulations can lead to a significant improvement of efficiency and road safety of trucks.

Safer aerodynamic frontal structures for trucks: final report / Transport Research Laboratory, 2010, 68 p.
This study report commissioned by the British Departmennt for Transport investigates the potential benefits in terms of casualty and emission reduction following the redesigning of the front of a truck. Conclusions vary accordingly to the different scenarios presented.

Egg-box’ panel for commercial vehicle front – compressive loading tests / Nowpada, S;Chirwa, E; C., Myler; P., Chinnaswamy; G.K.,  Matsika, E., in International Journal of Crashworthiness , Vol. 15, Iss. 1, 2010 (EP intranet only)
Aiming at reducing the accidents and serious injuries involving vulnerable roas users and HGV, this technical paper proposes an ‘egg-box’ energy-absorbing panel to be incorporated in the cab front and sides of a lorries.

Stakeholder views

EU Institutions’ views

European Commission
Commission staff working document impact assessment

European Parliament
Greener and safer trucks debate with Siim Kallas turns into gigaliner discussion
Transport Committee members broadly support the proposal, however strong division remains concerning the possibility to allow LHVs cross border transport circulation.

European Economic and Social Committee
“”The EESC welcomes the Commission proposal to revise – after 17 years – the current Directive on weights and dimensions of certain vehicles. The proposal intends to keep pace with technological progress in order to have cleaner and safer vehicles. At the same time the EESC notes that some critical issues need to be clarified so that the revision can be coherent with the already existing legislation, avoiding any unnecessarily complexity and/or discrimination.”

NGO views

Transport&Environment (T&E)
The briefing illustrates the key points confirming the strong support to the Commission proposal.

The Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER);  The Association of the European Rail Industry (UNIFE)
In their joint press release, CER and UNIFE opposed to the new proposal´s approach that, if adopted, will allow a wider circualtion of megatrucks on EU territory. On the contrary, they support rail mode as the modal shift towards environmentally friendly transport.

European Transport Safety Council (ETSC)
ETSC supports the proposal as the new design will improve safety for vulnerable road users by increasing the ‘sideways’ vision of the HGV drivers.

International Road Transport Union (IRU)
IRU broadly welcomes the proposal even thought expressed some concerns regarding details on the weight of coaches and electronic weight sensor.

Producers’ views

European Aluminium Association (EAA)
EAA supports the Commission proposal as it will positively impact on safety and sustainability:” Commission proposal creates possibilities for smarter truck designs: Aluminium can help to make the next generation trucks safer”. Press release

The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA)
The Association fully supports the proposed approach and considers that, if properly implemented, it will allow industry to further incorporate innovation into vehicle. Position paper

ACEM the Motorcycle Industry in Europe
The organisation argues that EC proposal must be further detailed as well as integrated from a technical perspective, to ensure charging infrastructure also meets the requirements of L-category vehicles. Position paper

UETR European Road Haulers Association
The association welcomes the proposal and rules regarding the transport of high cube containers, or even the matter of international transport of up to 44 tons between two member states allowing that weight at a national level.


Traffic Safety Basic Facts 2011: Heavy Goods Vehicles and Busses / DG MOVE – CARE Database, 2013, 17 p.
A full set of statistics, updated at December 2011, are presented and analysed both at EU level and national level, also by gender, age, seasonality, type of road, time of the day and of the week.

Road Safety Performance Index Flash 24 Towards safer transport of goods and passengers in Europe  / ETSC, 2013, 34 p.
Based on a full set of statistics on collisions involving LHVs in EU countries, the report provides recommendations at EU as well as national level.

Carriage of goods by road by means of goods road transport vehicles registered in the reporting countries / EUROSTAT, 2011

EU programmes and projects

The project research included a “Heavy Veichles” module. The report illustrates the main projects findings, such as: Heavy Vehicle Aggressivity Index; new protection systems for vulnerable road users involved in heavy goods vehicle collisions; new protection systems for passenger car occupants, when being involved in a side underrun accident; and testing procedure for side underrun protection devices (SUPD) of heavy goods vehicles.

Related legislative procedure

2013/0105(COD) Road transport: maximum authorised dimensions and weights for certain road vehicles

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