The European Commission has insisted that the future of trucking in Europe should be one of more aerodynamic vehicles, which along with a series of innovations currently trusted as standard in the US could see both fuel-consumption and road deaths on the continent significantly reduced. According to the proposed overhaul to the European transport system, the new guidelines could lead to annual savings of 5,000 Euros or $6,600 on a per-truck basis.
Emissions would also see a significant reduction of up to 10% per truck, taking into account the European average of around 100,000 kilometers driving per year. Perhaps most importantly of all, the Commission states that road deaths could be reduced by up to 500 pedestrians and cyclists killed every year in Europe in RTAs involving at least one truck.
“A brick is the least aerodynamic object you can imagine and so we are going to improve the shape of the lorries on our roads,” spoke EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas.
Standard European truck cabs have long been the subject of controversy, due to their largely angular design making it very difficult for drivers to see what’s around the vehicle at all times. Over recent years, campaigners speaking on behalf of dozens of fatally injured road users have been demanding that something be done to stem the tide of accidents.
The call was also echoed by European Federation of Road Traffic Victims president Jeannot Mersch, who stated that the change in road rules for trucks must be implemented sooner rather than later.
Campaign groups representing those killed in collisions with heavy goods vehicles – whose
“Lorries have an infamous reputation when it comes to road safety, and rightly so,” said Mersch “Currently, a frontal crash with a truck is like hitting a brick wall.”
Unfortunately, the road to approving such wide-reaching changes is an extremely long and often convoluted one in an area as large and diverse as the European Union. Processes such as these can often mean at least 18-months while member state endorsement is sought and granted, during which time industry pressure groups can do all in their power to further complicate and stand in the way of the intended outcome.
By contrast though, current laws on truck cab designs can be discussed straight away which could give the green-light to truck-builders enabling them to look into safer, more efficient and generally superior cab designs with a touch of US flavor.
Commission officials singled out one example in the form of retractable flaps known as “boat tails” in the US, which can cost up to $4,000 but pay for themselves in a couple year with savings on fuel.
However, it hasn’t been ignored that the sweeping reforms could spark significant problems for current truck owners and manufacturers with enormous investments in current truck design and technology.
“Some manufacturers are very keen on what we are doing. Others, however, have recently spent a lot of money making the current generation of trucks, which might be rendered obsolete a little quicker,” spoke an anonymous member of the Commission.