Volvo FL truckThe European Parliament has voted to approve new aero-shaped lorries, a move that could save 900 lives and improve HGV fuel economy by 10 per cent.

However, the truck industry has secured a ban on the new designs until 2022, despite the new aero rules being voluntary, not mandatory.

Lobby group Transport & Environment (T&E) criticised this, describing it as “ludicrous that governments gave in to truckmakers’ condition to ban innovation for as long as possible,” but welcomed the new regulations as “turn(ing) a page in road safety and lorry fuel efficiency”.

The new regulations will see European lorries get longer and more streamlined cabs; current rules dictate a 2.35m length for HGV cabs. This will improve crash protection and boost cyclist and pedestrian safety through improving the driver’s field of vision by around half.

The chance for greater streamlining and aero-focused design will improve fuel efficiency by up to 7-10 per cent, predicts T&E.

Improvements will be welcomed by hauliers, which could save (€3,000) by the new regulations: there are currently no European  fuel economy standards for lorries and, although they only make up 3 per cent of vehicles on EU roads, they account for 25 per cent of CO2 emissions.

15 per cent of all fatal collisions in Europe also involve lorries.

Specific safety rules for the new aero-shaped lorries will be announced by 2016, added the European Parliament and T&E plans to continue lobbying to maximise the potential of the new regulations.

“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity that we really cannot afford to let pass.”