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New EU rules for safer and more eco-friendly lorries

The European Parliament has given its final approval to new EU rules for safer and more eco-friendly lorries (Directive 2013/0195), put forward by the Commission. These rules will allow manufacturers to develop more aerodynamic lorries which will reduce fuel consumption by 7-10%, cut emissions of greenhouse gases, and also enhance road safety.

Violeta Bulc, EU Commissioner for Transport
Violeta Bulc, EU Commissioner for Transport

Violeta Bulc, EU Commissioner for Transport said: “Today’s final backing by the European Parliament is a significant achievement, which takes us one step closer to having better lorries on our roads. This will lead to fewer emissions and casualties on our roads and lower fuel costs for hauliers. It will also allow the industry to produce new lorries and to remain competitive on the global market. Today’s vote will pave the way for Member States to reach a final agreement, so that society can start to reap the benefits of these new rules.”

The new rules will bring a number of important benefits:

Better road safety: The current “brick shape” front of the cabin can increase the severity of injury to road users in a collision. It also reduces the driver’s field of vision. This is particularly dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians at junctions. A more rounded shape increases the field of vision and in the event of a low-speed collision – typically in an urban environment – reduces the risk of serious injury. Up to one third of controlled vehicles are overloaded, causing damage to roads and compromising safety. On-board weighing systems linked to the digital tachograph and weigh-in-motion stations on main roads will allow for more consistent checks from country to country. The overweighting of lorries is estimated to cost €950 million per year to the taxpayer.

Better environmental performance: In the EU, transport relies on oil and oil products for about 96% of its energy needs. Improved vehicle aerodynamics will reduce the fuel consumption of long-distance road haulage by 7–10%, making a significant economic and environmental contribution. For hauliers, this will allow savings of approximately €5,000 per year in fuel costs for a typical long-distance lorry covering 100,000 km. In addition, the rules allow for additional weight specifically to allow the use of heavier batteries required by alternative propulsion systems (hybrid, electric) for lorries and coaches. However, the loading capacity of lorries will not change.

Promoting intermodal transport: Red tape will be reduced allowing 45-foot containers to be switched more easily between ship, road and rail.

Next steps: The final step is the adoption by the Council of the EU in the coming weeks. In parallel, the so-called EU vehicle type approval legislation needs to be updated, before new vehicles can be put on the market.