Transport regs tighten in Europe

By Alex Dahm18 January 2022

A Max110 power-steered trailer Rear markings on a Faymonville Max110 power-steered trailer

Further tightening of regulations for abnormal transport loads have been reported in Germany, France and Belgium, the European association for abnormal road transport and mobile cranes ESTA has found.

“These are all worrying developments which give the impression some authorities have started a campaign to harass abnormal transports. At ESTA we will continue our efforts to address these issues and confront regulators with unnecessary and unwanted red tape,” the association said.

In Germany deviations from permitted dimensions, overall weight and axle load are still restricted in that only limited variation from those mentioned in the abnormal transport permit is allowed. This provision was originally to apply from 1 January 2021 but was postponed. A subsequent change in the traffic law saw this provision come into effect in November 2021.

Smaller margin for variation

A margin of up to 150 mm (downwards) will apply to the dimensions and 5 per cent to the weights and axle loads. A transport with an exemption of 3.40 metres on the width may therefore still be up to a width of 3.25 m. If the width is narrower, formally a new exemption must be requested.

With this provision, Germany distinguishes itself from most other European countries where smaller dimensions and-or weights and axle loads than those stated in the permit do not usually cause problems.

Having to speak German and French

Germany has also tightened the regulations for driving with exceptional transports by changing the law. It now says that to guarantee a safe and orderly flow of traffic, the driver or co-driver of an abnormal transport must have sufficient command of the German language during the journey. In the case of annual permits, this condition does not have to be met if it is not expected that there will be traffic situations during the transport in which knowledge of the German language is required.

Similarly, ESTA said it has received reports that France, since 1 January, has been imposing stricter requirements on drivers of exceptional transports. Drivers of category 1 transports or a co-driver present must now have a sufficient command of the French language. If not, an escort vehicle must be present during the transport. A Category 1 transport is 20 metres long, 3 metres wide and 4.5 metres high, and weighs a maximum of 48 tonnes.

Being fined for old rules

ESTA has received reports Belgian police have been carrying out frequent checks on the presence of rear marker signs on commercial vehicles. The checks are happening even though the signs concerned have not been compulsory for the admission or registration of lorries and trailers in the European Union for years now. Belgium has yet to adjust its national legislation, ESTA said.

Fines levied for not having rear markings vary between €350 and €1,000. ESTA is helping to find a solution but it may take some time. To avoid fines the advice is to have the signs in place when driving in Belgium.

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