Safer, more streamlined lorries could be on UK roads by 2022 if new EU laws are approved. MEPs have backed a draft policy supporting a radical redesign of the existing ‘brick’-shaped vehicles.
Bigger windscreens would remove blind spots and a cab redesign would further improve visibility. A rounded nose and front crumple zone would make it safer for pedestrians and cyclists, and a sleeker profile would ensure better fuel efficiency and reduce emissions.
National governments will now consider the proposed changes, with a decision on them expected after the EU elections in May.
If approved, the modifications will take at least seven years to become law, allowing haulage companies time to upgrade their fleets.
Currently, operators spend thousands of pounds retro-fitting existing HGVs, but while these make up just three per cent of traffic in the EU, they account for 15 per cent of the fatal accidents.
The Freight Transport Association (FTA) is backing the new safety plans, although James Hookham, the FTA’s managing director of membership and policy, said: “It has to be achieved without reducing payload, otherwise more journeys would have to be made – which would result in more congestion and emissions.”
The Department for Transport is also on-board, but wants to see alterations before signing off on the proposals. A spokesman said: “Making HGVs safer is a priority for the Government.”
A prototype (pictured, top) by the Transport & Environment group has helped shape EU proposals for the next generation of HGVs. Here's how it gives road users better protection:
1. Savings: Sleeker shape would allow hauliers to save thousands of pounds in fuel.
2. Comfort: A larger cab size gives drivers more space to stretch out between stints.
3. Visibility: New frontal design allows bigger windscreens, reducing blind spots.
4. Safety: Rounded front end creates a crumple zone to minimise injuries to cyclists and pedestrians.
5. Protection: A crash box can be fitted in the extra nose space, reducing the impact of accidents.
6. Efficiency: Longer nose improves aerodynamics by 12 per cent, saving fuel and cutting emissions.