In Europe, heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs), such as trucks, buses, coaches and articulated vehicles must comply with certain rules on weights and dimensions to ensure road safety, prevent damages to roads, bridges and tunnels and ensure fair competition in the road transport sector. These common rules are laid down in Council Directive 96/53/EC, also known as the Weights and Dimensions Directive.
The Weights and Dimensions Directive sets maximum authorised dimensions of HDVs used in national and international commercial transport and the maximum authorised weights of HDVs used in international commercial transport. This ensures that Member States cannot restrict the circulation of vehicles, which comply with these limits from performing international transport operations within their territories.
To improve energy and operational efficiency of transport operations and contribute to the greening objectives of the EU transport policy, the and Directive Weights and Dimensions Directive was amended subsequently by Directive (EU) 2015/719, Decision (EU) 2019/984 and Regulation (EU) 2019/1242. These amendments brought certain derogations from the maximum authorised weights and dimensions of vehicles and vehicle combinations to facilitate the use of alternatively fuelled (including zero-emission) powertrains, improve vehicles’ aerodynamics, support trials of modular systems (longer and/or heavier vehicle combinations composed of conventional vehicle units, also known as European Modular Systems) and incentivise intermodal transport operations.
These rules are complemented by the requirements for type-approval of commercial vehicles laid out in Directive 97/27/EC and its implementing measures, especially Regulations 661/2009 and 1230/2012. These legal acts (under the responsibility of the Commission's DG GROW) set the framework for putting vehicles such as light-duty and heavy-duty vehicles, buses and trailers on the market.
The Commission services carried out an assessment of the implementation of the amendments introduced to the Weights and Dimensions Directive. The results of the analysis are available in the Commission Staff Working Document.
The Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy adopted by the Commission in 2020 announced the review of the Weights and Dimensions Directive with the main objectives to speed up the uptake of zero-emission HDVs and boost intermodal freight transport operations. The Commission has launched the review.
Council Directive 96/53/EC laying down for certain road vehicles circulating within the Community the maximum authorized dimensions in national and international traffic and the maximum authorized weights in international traffic