HGV operators can now use aerodynamic trailer features and longer cabs15 February 2022

Aerodynamic improvements such as WABCO's OptiFlow are now road-legal in the UK

More environmentally-friendly heavy goods vehicles are allowed on Britain’s roads, thanks to new government regulations that came into effect on 14 February.

The new rules will allow haulage companies to choose vehicles with elongated cabs and aerodynamic features fitted on the back, which help reduce fuel consumption. A 2013 study estimated that these aerodynamic improvements to HGVs could result in fuel savings of 7% to 15%.

The design of elongated cabs also improves driver vision, boosting safety for other road users. The extra space means more comfort for the driver, such as by facilitating a larger bed in sleeper cabs. New guidance makes it clear that these vehicles can be type-approved via the retained EU Type Approval Masses and Dimensions Regulations (Regulation (EU) 1230/2012, as amended, in particular by S.I. 2020/1393). See also story below, via the first link.

Aerodynamic rear devices are flaps which are fitted on the back of trailers to reduce the vehicle’s aerodynamic drag without using up load space. They were previously not permitted for use on GB roads under regulations that have been in place since 1986.

Roads minister Baroness Vere said: “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, as we Build Back Better from Covid.”

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. These features are vital in helping to reduce emissions and improve air quality and Logistics UK welcomes the design of elongated cabs that improve driver vision, and provide drivers with much-needed additional comfort space.”

The Department for Transport has published good practice guidance on the use of aerodynamic rear devices on HGVs in urban and rural areas, available via the second link below. It states that they should not protrude more than 25mm to the side of the vehicle, whose total width (including them) should be less than 2.6m. Retractable devices should be closed when in urban environments travelling less than 30mph where vulnerable road users might be present. Vehicles with devices or equipment that project over 1m from the rear, will require a red lamp to be mounted on them and a red reflector, both of which must be visible from a reasonable distance behind the vehicle.

Transport Engineer

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