In the run-up to next week’s vote by the Transport Committee of the European Parliament on the revised directive on truck weights and dimensions, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) re-iterates the industry’s commitment to building safety technologies into commercial vehicles.
The most significant safety advances, ACEA stresses, will continue to come from a technological approach to safety – which is covered by different legislation – rather than from re-designed cabs as is proposed in this revised directive, which would allow longer cabs for reasons of safety and aerodynamics. See pictured example.
Thanks to recent advances in vehicle safety systems, modern trucks are involved in only 6% of all road accidents, ACEA says. In addition, between 2001 and 2011, the number of fatalities in accidents involving heavy goods vehicles in the EU has declined by 42%.
“This is largely thanks to joint efforts between the industry and EU policy makers under the regulatory framework that deals with vehicle safety, the General Safety Regulation,” said Erik Jonnaert, ACEA Secretary General. “The industry is committed to going forward with safety improvements under this Regulation.”
Regarding improvements to forward, side and rear vision for instance, the use of new technologies such as cameras and proximity detectors will provide a quicker, more flexible and more efficient way to improve the safety of pedestrians and cyclists than re-designed cabs.
The primary objective of the weights and dimensions proposal is to improve fuel-efficiency. To this end, the industry calls on policy makers to introduce flexibility on the length of trucks, rather than allowing longer cab fronts for aerodynamic purposes only. “This would enable manufacturers to incorporate into vehicle design innovations which can really improve fuel-efficiency and drive down emissions, but which require extra space,” explained Mr Jonnaert.
A number of such fuel-efficiency innovations requiring extra space already exist, such as alternative powertrains, more efficient cooling solutions and fuel tanks for alternative fuels. Others are in the pipeline, like waste heat recovery. These innovations have a far greater impact on fuel-efficiency than the proposed length extension, which is exclusively limited to the re-design of the cab for aerodynamic improvements.
“This flexible approach would be far more ambitious, helping us put the most fuel-efficient trucks on the road,” said Mr Jonnaert.