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1.4.2 New Dimensions and Weights

In April 2013, the EC communicated its proposal to amend the maximum authorised dimensions and weights for heavy duty road vehicles, which have been in force since 1996, in order to allow more energy efficient vehicles to be put on the market (EC, 2013d). The proposal intends to:

• Grant derogations from the maximum dimensions of vehicles for the addition of aerodynamic devices to the rear of vehicles or to redefine the geometry of the cabs for tractors. While ensuring compliance with road safety rules and the constraints imposed by infrastructure and traffic flow, these derogations aim to open up new prospects for manufacturers of tractors, trucks and trailers, provided that the load capacity of the vehicles is not increased. In addition to reducing fuel consumption and GHG emissions, the new designs of tractor cabs are expected to improve the drivers' field of vision, increasing the drivers' comfort and safety and reducing road accidents.

• Authorize a weight increase of 1 ton for vehicles with an electric or hybrid propulsion, to take account of the weight of batteries or the dual motorization, without prejudice to the load capacity of the vehicle.

• Facilitate the development of intermodal transportation by allowing a derogation of 15 cm in the length of trucks carrying 45-ft containers, which are increasingly used in intercontinental and European transportation. This minor adjustment is sufficient to permit an extra EUR-pallet to fit in a 45-ft palletwide container (8½-ft wide), adding about 3 % load efficiency to the usual 32 EUR-pallet arrangement, while improving safety by reducing empty spaces.

• Confirm that cross-border use of longer vehicles is lawful for journeys that only cross one border, if the two Member States concerned already allow it and if the existing infrastructure and the road safety situation allow it.

• Enable the inspection authorities to better detect infringements through the use of either weighing systems built into the road or by means of onboard sensors in vehicles which communicate remotely with roadside inspectors. These technologies will allow a better filtering of the vehicles, so that only vehicles strongly suspected of infringement are stopped for manual inspection. Furthermore and in order to encourage the spread of such devices, the Commission plans to define the technical standards for onboard weighing devices, particularly the standards for the electromagnetic communication interface. Such systems offer the additional advantage of enabling drivers to better control the weight of their vehicles.

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