I am writing to express my concern about the current negotiations on the revision of Directive
96/53/EC and in particular the possibility that measures to allow for safer and more fuel-efficient
lorry designs may be unnecessarily delayed.
As you know, current EU restrictions on the weights and dimensions of HGV cabs have
inadvertently resulted in designs that increase the risk of fatal accidents with pedestrians and
cyclists. The current requirements have resulted in dangerous blind spots and blunt-shaped cab
fronts that cause greater damage in the case of a collision. The consequences of these unsafe
designs are tragic. Lorries are responsible for over half of all cyclist deaths in London and a third of
cyclist deaths across the UK as a whole.
Under changes that are being pushed for by the European Parliament, lorry manufacturers would
be permitted to increase the dimensions of their vehicles in order to incorporate safety features.
These could include longer, rounded cab fronts, crumple zones and lower driver positions to
improve visibility. Crucially, the changes could be made on a voluntary basis by manufacturers by
next year and the revised rules would only become compulsory seven years after the entry into
force of the Directive.
However, national governments in the Council have been arguing for a ten-year moratorium on the
new weights and dimensions requirements, led by France and Sweden who have come under
pressure from truck manufacturers Renault and Volvo. Such a move would needlessly delay lifesaving
designs until at least 2025 and lead to more unnecessary deaths on our roads.
I understand that talks on this issue between MEPs and representatives of the Council and
European Commission broke down on Monday 3rd December, and that a final round of
negotiations has been scheduled for the 10th December. During this time the Italian Presidency of
the Council will be looking to member states to inform its final negotiating mandate. I would
therefore urge you use your position as a member of the Council of Transport Ministers to argue
against delaying the revised rules and ensure that safer lorries can be manufactured.
Catherine Bearder MEP