Breakthrough on safer, more aerodynamic, truck cabs

Several years of campaigning to make large trucks safer and more aerodynamic have finally come to fruition. Earlier this month EU transport ministers agreed to allow more streamlined truck cabs on Europe’s roads from 1 September 2020. T&E said the decision signalled an end to years of EU rules holding back safety and fuel-efficiency.

Today’s large trucks – many of them weighing over 40 tonnes – make up 2% of vehicles on Europe’s roads but account for 15% of the 4,000 road deaths every year, of which around a quarter are cyclists and pedestrians. The traditional brick-shaped cab has been blamed for many of these deaths and other injuries, because it limits the driver’s vision. It also creates greater wind resistance, thereby increasing fuel consumption.

Safer and more aerodynamic cabs have been proposed for several years, but various pieces of EU law held back their introduction. Under changes now agreed under the so-called ‘weights and dimensions’ legislation, truck designers will be allowed an additional 80-90cm of cab length in return for improving aerodynamics, vision, safety and driver comfort. More specific measures to address the blind spot in brick-shaped cabs were addressed two weeks later but under different legislation.

T&E’s freight director, James Nix, said: ‘For decades EU law prohibited truckmakers from producing more streamlined, rounded cabs, holding back safety and aerodynamics. Today’s decision puts an end to this – it will help consign the brick-shaped cab to history, and it paves the way for more fuel efficient and safer trucks to hit the road many years earlier than previously agreed. It’s also worth noting that the reform of truck cab design has taken place in less than nine months, showing that the EU can move speedily when it wants to.’

Combined with other design changes, the reform of the cab design will enable emissions reductions and fuel savings of up to 10% from long-haul trucks.