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Road safety

A risk to road traffic safety

firefighters at a HGV accident


Statistics show that the risk of being killed in a road traffic accident double when a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) is involved. In addition, with increasing vehicle weight the severity of the accident becomes worse. A 60 tonne mega truck travelling at 80 km/h possesses almost the same kinetic energy as a 40 tonne HGV moving at 100 km/h, with a correspondingly longer breaking distance The consequences of a mega truck crashing into the tail end of a queue of traffic on the motorway do not bear thinking about.


Bends, junctions and roundabouts

A length of 25 metres would also be a safety risk on the roads. Bends, cross-roads and traffic islands are all difficult to navigate in a 25 metre vehicle. In other words: just the sheer length of a mega truck will make it a hindrance to other traffic.

With growing length, the space required to perform turning manoeuvres also increases. Vehicles with a steering axle (dolly) attached to a semi-trailer also make full use any reserve road space, despite manufacturers' claims that such vehicles are especially manoeuvrable. Even if a driver manages to maintain a perfectly straight line, there will be no more safety margin remaining on either side of a longer vehicle. In practice, this means that a vehicle's wheels will regularly leave the designated carriageway, with consequences for road safety, particularly for pedestrians and cyclists.


“Room for manoeuvre and safety distances are generally no longer available, so that even small deviations from a correct line will result in adjoining surfaces being driven on” [...] “Driving over or touching surfaces in adjoining areas can endanger other road users (pedestrians and cyclists)[...]"


The Federal Highway Research Institute (Germany), November 2006


Cross-roads and railway crossings

Danger will also be created by the increased time required for longer vehicles to clear cross-roads and railway crossings. A 25 metre truck will need considerably more time for turning and manoeuvring. Driving through cross-roads will hinder car traffic and make the whole situation confusing for other road users.

a mega truck blocking a corss-road in Stuttgart (Germany)

Blocked: a mega truck in Stuttgart, Germany. Longer vehicles need more clearance time and space on junctions and railway crossings.

Allianz pro Schiene/Pressefoto Kraufmann & Kraufmann


Crash barriers

The impact energy released when a 60 tonne LHV is involved in a collision is considerably greater than with a conventional vehicle weighing a total of 40 tonnes. The consequences would be devastating. One particular problem on motorways is how to protect oncoming traffic from accidents involving LHVs – because crash barriers were not designed to withstand the impact of a mega truck. Protective barriers capable of withstanding greater impact than at present would have a negative effect on car traffic, resulting in worse accidents. Assuming that such barriers are even available.


“An additional problem is that current protection measures on roads would not withstand an impact with a longer and/or heavier vehicle. Crash barriers for 60 tonne truck combinations are presently not available. Equipping the entire road network cannot be justified economically.”


The Federal Highway Research Institute (Germany), November 2006


Parking facilities

Even today, there are not enough parking spaces for trucks on Europe's roads to enable drivers to take breaks in accordance with driving times regulations. Vehicles are already being forced to park in the approach and exit lanes of parking and service facilities, which are normally used by traffic for slowing down or accelerating. This has serious and sometime deadly consequences for all road users. Mega trucks will make this problem worse, because parking bays are too short. The maximum length of designated parking areas for HGVs is normally 18.75 metres, which is far too short for longer LHVs.



Every driver knows the difficulty of overtaking a heavy goods vehicle: estimating the distance to oncoming traffic, being aware of crosswinds, sometimes having to overtake two vehicles that are close together. A 25 metre LHV is longer than a conventional truck by the equivalent of two medium sized cars and will make overtaking manoeuvres longer, harder to judge and riskier.


The safety risks arising from mega trucks in tunnels are already well known. The larger the volume of goods in a truck, the greater the fire load, and this could have deadly consequences in an accident. The safety facilities in tunnels were not designed for larger amounts of fire load, and upgrading them to maintain current safety levels would cost millions.



More on the risks mega trucks pose to road safety