Minister Varadkar asked to support ‘curved cabs’ for new lorries

15th April 2014
Press Release

An Taisce, The National Trust for Ireland, has asked Minister Varadkar to support ‘curved cabs’ for new lorries.

The move by Ireland’s National Trust move comes in the wake of a vote in the European Parliament today [Tue 15th April] giving the green light to a design change for lorry cabs that promises to save hundreds of lives and reduce fuel consumption and emissions.

“The vote marks the beginning of the end for Europe’s brick-shaped lorry cabs, which are dangerous and inefficient”, said James Nix, policy director with An Taisce.

Following the vote, An Taisce has written to Minister Varadkar asking him to support the campaign for safer lorries. “As well as saving lives, curving the cab of trucks will cut diesel consumption – reducing fuel bills and emissions”, said Mr Nix.

The vote in the European Parliament vote – if endorsed by Member States – will grant lorry-makers more design space for the front end of the cab.

The extra space is to allow the front of the cab to be ‘rounded’ or ‘curved’, making it safer and more aerodynamic. The extra space also must be used to eliminate blind spots, add a crumple zone, and to make sure pedestrians and cyclists are not knocked underneath the wheels in a collision.

Lorry-makers will have the possibility to improve designs straight away and Parliament wants these life-saving features to become mandatory for all new lorries by 2022.

Lorries currently have a dreadful safety record: every year 15% of all fatal collisions in Europe – around 4,200 deaths - involve lorries. [2]

Jeannot Mersch, president of the European Federation of Road Traffic Victims, said: “With today’s vote the European Parliament has taken citizens’ safety to heart. Thousands of lives are sadly lost and many more victims are severely injured in lorry crashes every year. Rounded lorry cabs will help avoid hundreds of these deaths and injuries. It is now up to the Member States to progress this important reform. Any weakening, delaying or blocking this decision by Member States would be unforgivable.”

A rounder lorry front, taken together with aerodynamic improvements at the end of heavy good vehicles, could also improve fuel economy by up to 10 per cent, which at today’s diesel prices would save hauliers approx. €3,000 per vehicle per year. [1] For the first time, Parliament also called for the introduction of fuel efficiency standards for lorries.

Changes to lorry cabs would make Europe’s roads safer for pedestrians and cyclists, yet a number of lorry-makers are opposing these life-saving improvements. Some lorry-makers are lobbying for the new design to be prohibited until 2025 to stop more innovative competitors being the first to make better lorries.

Other manufacturers just want to cherry-pick: they welcome the extra cab space – but oppose key safety enhancements such as improved direct vision for drivers.

Research shows that cyclists involved in collisions with lorries are 80 times more likely to be killed than those hit by a car - http://www.britishcycling.org.uk/campaigning/article/20130619-campaigning-road-safety-HGVs-and-Cycling--Why-the-two-are-uneasy-bedfellows-0

“There is no scope for this kind of cherry-picking or opposition from companies afraid that more dynamic competitors will adopt the new standard faster”, said James Nix.

Member states, represented in the European Council, will now negotiate with the Parliament on the implementation of safer lorries, and whether they should be mandatory or optional from 2022.

“Our hope is that Minister Varadkar, after examining the case to curve the front of lorries, will come down in favour reform, and that Ireland will be a strong, progressive, voice at the European level”, concluded James Nix.

The work to develop better lorry cabs in recent years has been spearheaded by Transport & Environment, a pan-European NGO, which commissioned a very innovative report published in 2012: http://www.transportenvironment.org/publications/smarter-safer-cleaner-how-small-changes-lorry-design-can-make-big-difference

In a further positive development for sustainable transport, MEPs have today voted against ultra-long trucks (‘megatrucks’), rejecting proposals for the cross-border use of longer lorries. Instead, Parliament has asked the Commission to review the likely impact

ENDS

For further information, please call:

James Nix, Policy Director, An Taisce Tel: +353 86 8394129 Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications Chair, An Taisce Tel: +353 87 2411995, email: publicaffairs@antaisce.org

Notes:

Three quarters of goods in the EU are carried on Europe’s roads by lorries. Whilst they are only 3 percent of vehicles, lorries account for 25 percent of road transport CO2 emissions in Europe. Over the past 20 years the fuel efficiency of lorries has hardly improved.

[1] EU 2011

[2] For a long haul lorry that drives 100,000km per year.

[3] ‘Megatrucks’ are like road trains as long as medium-sized aircraft. The EU’s current rules for international transport say no lorry can be longer than 18.75 metres or have a fully laden weight greater than 40 tonnes.

Infographic: http://www.transportenvironment.org/sites/te/files/publications/Truck_Final_update2_0.pdf