Transport and Environment (T&E)

MEP proposes to improve road safety in Europe’s cities

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Source: Transport and Environment (T&E)

MEP and Rapporteur, Jörg Leichtfried, today proposed changes to an EU lorry law that would ensure that all lorries, including city trucks, become safer, saving the lives of hundreds of cyclists, pedestrians and car drivers in Europe’s cities. Members of the European Parliament’s transport committee debated Leichtfried’s plans to fix the Commission's incomplete proposal that would make EU lorries safer, cleaner and cheaper to run.
Leichtfried proposes to give lorry makers more design space, but they will need to use some of the extra space to redesign lorry cabs to eliminate blind spots and improve crash performance and pedestrian protection. These life-saving features will become obligatory for all new lorries. The greater design flexibility opens the door for fuel-saving measures such as better aerodynamics, which will benefit citizens, hauliers, lorry makers and the environment.

Commenting on the report, Transport & Environment (T&E) policy officer, William Todts, said: “Leichtfried’s report is a hopeful sign that the European Parliament takes safety to heart. Redesigned lorry cabs will save hundreds of lives, especially in cities, and we simply can't count on lorry makers to make these changes voluntarily.”

Lorries represent just 3% of the vehicle fleet in the EU but they cause 25% of road transport emissions and are involved in 15% of fatal crashes, which kill 4,000 people annually. EU law on lorry sizes forces the front end of European lorry cabins to be brick-shaped, which reduces the aerodynamics of lorries, making them inefficient and dangerous in the event of a frontal crash.

The draft report on weight and dimensions of lorries also mandates weight sensors for all new trucks to eradicate the very common practice of overloading. This will save governments millions of euros in road maintenance but also ensure a more level playing field in the freight sector.

Leichtfried’s recommendations limit the use of ‘megatrucks’ to national transport, excluding the existing traffic between the borders of Sweden and Finland [1]. This takes into account that allowing ‘megatrucks’ could cause a shift from rail to road freight; increase greenhouse gas emissions and fatal accidents.

“We agree with MEP Leichtfried that we need better, not bigger lorries. Given the environmental and safety problems we already face with normal-sized lorries, allowing bigger and heavier lorries now doesn’t make any sense,” William Todts concluded.

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