Austria says no to mega trucks

Two thirds of respondents reject the use of larger lorries on Austrian roads.

Heavier than some battle tanks and longer than two buses - if the EU Commission has its way, this could soon become the standard size of a normal truck in the EU. The majority of EU citizens, however, do not want so-called mega trucks, i.e. trucks that weigh 44 tonnes or more and are 30 metres long. This is also the case in Austria, according to a representative survey of 980 people conducted by the French market research company Harris Interactive. 65% of Austrians are against the use of larger trucks and mega trucks on Austrian roads. Across the EU, more than 8,000 people in 9 countries were surveyed, with a narrow majority of 51% saying 'no' to larger dimensions.

Shifting from sustainable rail to road transport

The European Union is currently considering an amendment of the 'Weights and Dimensions Directive' to allow bigger and longer trucks on all European roads. The rationale: bigger trucks and mega trucks should carry more goods per vehicle and thus reduce traffic on the roads. What sounds plausible at first glance turns out to be a fallacy on closer inspection. Studies show that larger loading capacities also reduce the price of road transport. This would lead to a shift back from rail to road and ultimately to even more traffic. In addition, larger trucks have a massive negative impact on safety, road infrastructure and factors such as noise and emissions. 

Austrians concerned in survey

The results of the survey show that more than 80% of Austrians surveyed are concerned that heavier trucks will have a huge impact on the condition of the infrastructure and require high investments, while they also fear more dangerous traffic with higher risks for other road users. 57% of Austrians expect traffic to increase as truck transport becomes cheaper. Around 70% are convinced that the introduction of mega trucks will have a negative impact on the climate due to increased CO2 emissions, and they fear that heavier trucks and mega trucks will also lead to more nuisance for local residents (keywords: noise, congestion, etc.).

Yes to higher weights for electric trucks, no to a free pass for combustion engines and mega trucks

Back in March, Europe's rail freight sector warned that while the EU wants to make transport greener by allowing more weight and space for batteries, the current proposal jeopardises the objectives of the 'EU Green Deal' as it only optimises road transport and ignores the huge impact on the entire transport sector. RCG CEO Clemens Först comments: Rail is essential to achieving the goals of the European Green Deal. If the EU 'Weights and Dimensions Directive' is adopted in its current form, rail freight will become less attractive. We need fair competition that takes into account the external costs of CO2 emissions, road safety and the need to modernise road infrastructure. We support higher weights for electric trucks, but this must not be used as a fig leaf to increase the weight of traditional internal combustion engines.

In mid-June, the EU Council of Transport Ministers will take a final decision on a new directive for new maximum lengths and weights for lorries on European roads.