Road safety campaigners have slammed moves to push back European lorry design law changes until 2022.
EU transport chiefs this week thrashed out a deal on legislation allowing bigger cabs to facilitate measures to enhance cyclist safety.
But they agreed that these revisions to Directive 96/53/EC – originally mooted to come into force by early 2018 – should not become activeuntil four years later. It is understood this is to allow manufacturers to compete equally when the changes come in.
Safety campaigners said the deal could cost lives.
European Transport Safety Council executive director Antonio Avenoso said: “These changes could prevent up to 900 deaths a year on European roads, so any delay will cost lives.
“The idea that these road safety innovations should be subject to a moratorium to enable all manufacturers to compete equally is without precedent. Just imagine how many more lives would have been lost if innovations like seat belts and electronic stability control had been held back from the market for similar reasons.”
See Me Save Me campaign founder Kate Cairns described the delay as “a disgrace”.
“This directive was not even stipulating mandatory use of safer cabs, simply that companies be given the choice,” she said.
“Under the original EU proposal, new trucks could have hit the road in 2017. As a result of this preposterous and callous delay hundreds more families will suffer the loss of loved ones, as I am suffering the loss of my sister, Eilidh.”
However, Cairns added: “We must not be discouraged as this is still a big change in a hugely conservative industry. We have come a long way from having safety virtually omitted and mega trucks being allowed to cross borders.”
The legislation would allow manufacturers to design cabs with fewer blind spots and a crumple zone to prevent pedestrians and cyclists being knocked under a lorry’s wheels.
A final agreement on the law remains subject to a vote by the European Parliament.