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Letter to Department of Transport: no delay on safer, more fuel efficient lorries

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.

Yours sincerely,

Catherine Bearder MEP

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