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European mega truck policy cannot be enforced, says transport group.

15th June 2012

European moves to allow 25 metre long 40 tonne mega trucks between consenting countries is in blatant disregard of the democratic process 1 and will be impossible to enforce, says Freight on Rail. 2

The transport group is concerned that by authorising mega truck traffic between consenting countries, the European Transport Commissioner is choosing to both bypass the democratic process and implement a weight limit that cannot be enforced.

At the moment, countries are only permitted to have larger heavier HGVs, which do not comply with existing international regulations, to operate within their own borders. 3

Whilst the UK Government currently says it will not allow mega trucks to circulate in the UK , Freight on Rail believes it will come under huge pressure from the road haulage industry on competition grounds to allow these lorries, despite all the adverse safety, congestion and environmental consequences. 4 As a result Freight on Rail urges the Coalition Government to maintain its agreed position and resist any attempt to force mega trucks onto UK roads.

Philippa Edmunds, Freight on Rail manager, said: “The Commission is supposed to implement existing laws, not make new ones. The weight limit of 40 tonnes is effectively meaningless as the Commission has no means of enforcing it. Instead of pursuing this undemocratic change to the existing policy to allow cross border traffic of mega trucks, the Commission should evaluate the road safety 5, congestion and pollution implications of mega trucks and let Parliament and Transport ministers make the decision in the normal democratic way.”

1. Commissioner Siim Kallas, has sent Brian Simpson MEP Chair of the European Parliament Transport Committee a letter dated 14th June stating that he is re-interpreting the European rules to allow cross border traffic of mega trucks between consenting countries without consulting either the European Parliament or the Council of Ministers on this change of policy.

2. Mega trucks are operating at a maximum limit of 60 tonnes in Sweden, Finland and the Netherlands. Most EU borders do not have facilities to check weights; Countries operating within the Schengen agreement do not have border controls.

3. Mega trucks of 25.25 metres (82 ft) are fifty per cent longer than the vast majority of UK HGVs which are 16.50 metres (54ft) long, with less than 2% of lorries at 18.75 metres, all with a weight limit of 44 tonnes for UK traffic and 40 tonnes for international traffic.

4. The UK Government has already shown it buckles under industry pressure when it allowed a ten-year trial of 7ft longer lorries this year.

5. Mega trucks have increased dangers due to their size and lack of manoeuverability including increased risk of snaking at cruising speeds because of the double articulation needed for manoeuverability in urban conditions [i]. The European Commission's own research in Jan 2009 stated that mega trucks are individually more dangerous than standard HGVs [ii].

[i] TRL research for UK Government – Table 27 Assessments of results of handling characteristiscs according to Knight 2008 and Wohrmann 2008 Therefore the extra articulation will reduce turning space at slow speed, but this same feature increases the likelihood of a “snake” occurring at higher speeds, for example changing lane on a dual carriageway.

[ii] TML Effects of adapting the rules on weights and dimensions of HGVs P14 penultimate line 6 November 2008 DGTREN website

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