The UK government has announced new regulations which will increase the environmental efficiency and safety of HGVs.
The changes apply to certain aerodynamic features, such as using longer cabs to reduce fuel consumption and the number of journeys needed to transport goods.
A 2013 study estimated that aerodynamic improvements to HGVs could achieve fuel savings of 7%-15%.
Roads minister Baroness Vere said: “This is another brilliant step, not just in our efforts to reduce emissions across our transport network, but also to improve safety on our roads.
“I hope operators will make use of these new regulations, introducing vehicles with these features into their existing fleets to reduce fuel consumption and boost safety.”
Other changes include the option to fit devices to the back of trailers to lessen vehicles’ aerodynamic drag without reducing load space. Before the new rules came into force on 14 February, use of these devices was banned under regulations in place since 1986.
Elongating HGV cabs also addresses the problem of driver comfort, by making room for larger sleeping spaces, as well as improving driver visibility.
Phil Lloyd, Logistics UK’s head of engineering policy, said: “Allowing the use of aerodynamic features and elongated cabs on HGVs is fantastic news for our transport sector, which is looking to improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions.”
He added: “These features are vital for reducing emissions and improving air quality and Logistics UK welcomes the design of elongated cabs that improve driver vision and provide drivers with much-needed additional comfort space.”
A spokesperson for the RHA added: “We welcome this announcement on HGV vehicles and believe it is eminently sensible to have innovations that allow for streamlining and therefore improved fuel efficiency.”
The new regulations follow separate legislation introduced last year to allow “greener”, longer goods vehicles to be rolled out. These came from the government’s response to a consultation on longer semi trailers (LSTs) reducing mileage, congestion and carbon emissions.
A previous trial involving LSTs – which have a trailer length of either 14.6m or 15.65m (up to 2.05m longer than standard length trailers) found longer vehicles reduced journey numbers by one in 12, with more than 54m vehicle kilometres saved.
It found using longer vehicles saved 48,000 tonnes of CO2(e) and 241 tonnes of NOx during the nine-year trial period (2012-2021).
Controls on the length of HGVs were previously in place due to concerns over road safety. In a government consultation into LSTs, 63% of respondents identified safety concerns as the biggest hazard caused by using LSTs.