Just at the moment, not a great deal, but in five to seven years it could mean everything.
When will the new EU regulations be enforced?
The EU Parliament wants these regulations, which are designed to improve safety and fuel efficiency of the vehicles, to be mandatory across the EU within the next eight years, but individual national governments would have to enact laws enforcing them in their countries before that could happen, and there are still a lot of unresolved questions as to what the UK’s version of these regulations would look like, and if there will be such at all.
As they stand, these regulations call for a complete re-design of lorry cabs, incorporating rounder, more streamlined front surfaces and much bigger windows. The idea is to reduce fuel consumption in order to reduce emissions and costs, while improving safety by reducing blind spots, which are considered a source of many avoidable traffic fatalities now. The new cab design would become mandatory only ‘after an appropriate transitional period’, which would give lawmakers a chance to delay implementation if they wish.
The EU parliament support for the measures is undeniable – the vote was 507 MEPs for, and only 88 against. If the governments of the EU’s 28 member states approve (doubtless after a lot of political wrangling) the regulations would become compulsory seven years after the directive takes effect, and any new manufacture of heavy goods lorries in the EU would have to meet the new design specifications.
How will the manufacturers and transport industry prepare for this?
Manufacturers will have to make their own predictions about whether this will happen, and how best to respond. They will surely design such vehicles, and if they believe the regulations will effect hem, they will make sure they are already selling the vehicles by the implementation date. It would simply be too expensive to wait until the last minute to adapt their plans.
This means that the next generation of lorries has effectively already been redesigned. The distribution and transport industries will have to make their plans accordingly. Will they update their fleets just before implementation, keeping the old-style lorries on the roads as long as possible and delaying the need to adapt to the new designs, or become early adapters and take advantage of the efficiency and safety boosts as soon as possible?
Both solutions will be used to one degree or another by different fleet managers. I am hopeful, though, that the safety and efficiency gains called for will actually happen. If these new vehicles can get the job done with less fuel, and cause fewer deaths through accident, they could do a lot of good.