European parliament

The European Parliament (EP) voted yesterday (15 April) to approve European Commission (EC) proposals to allow more aerodynamic, safer truck designs.

Originally tabled in April 2013, the draft regulations will allow manufacturers to exceed current weights and dimensions rules in order to develop more aerodynamic lorries, which the EP said will reduce fuel consumption by 7% to 10%, cut emissions of greenhouse gases and make trucks safer for vulnerable road users.

The proposals will allow cabs with a rounded shape and aerodynamic flaps at the back of the trailer, which the EC said could save approximately €5,000 (£4,100) per year in fuel costs for a typical long-distance lorry covering 100,000km. This represents a 7% to 10% cut in greenhouse gas emissions (or 7.8 tonnes of CO2 for the same long-distance lorry covering 100,000 km).

Drivers’ field of vision will also be improved through elimination of blindspots, which the EC said could help save the lives of 300 to 500 vulnerable road users, such as cyclists and pedestrians, across Europe each year.

The EP agreed with the majority of the EC’s proposals, in particular those to adopt a broader range of low carbon propulsion technology, clarify the possibilities for aerodynamic cabs and rear devices, and to strengthen enforcement of the new regulations.

However, it did not agree with an amendment that would limit the extension of aerodynamic rear devices to 500mm (which is already authorised today and therefore would not reap the benefits of longer devices in reducing fuel and emissions). Nor did it agree with amendments that rejected the broad definition of ‘intermodal transport’, which takes into account the evolution of container trade.

The EP also upheld the EC’s position over not allowing cross-border operation of ‘megatrucks’ at this stage and called on a further debate on the subject by 2016.

Vice-President Siim Kallas, in charge of transport, said: "I am pleased with this vote which supports the Commission's goal to make road transport cleaner and safer, allowing innovative designs for the greener trucks of the future.”

The draft legislation must now be taken to the European Council, which will take its own decision on the proposals, with a target date of June 2014 for this to take place. If all parties agree, then new trucks could be hitting UK roads between 2018 and 2020.