The field trial with long trucks investigates the use of vehicles and vehicle combinations with a length of up to 25.25 m and a maximum total weight of 40 tonnes (or 44 t in combined transport). It tests a total of five vehicle variants, from extended semitrailers (length 17.80 m) to trucks towing semitrailers (length 25.25 m).
The long-truck field trial is initially limited to a period of five years (Jan. 1, 2012, to Dec. 31, 2016) and is accompanied by an extensive program of scientific tests from the Federal Highway Research Institute (BASt).
The BASt interim report on long trucks on the field trial, published in September 2014, confirms the positive expectations and shows that long trucks are safe, environmentally friendly and economical in road traffic.
- The field trial with long trucks provides evidence that using long trucks can bring about fuel savings of around 25 percent per tonne transported or per transport unit. CO2 emissions are also decreased in proportion to the reduction in fuel consumption. Reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions – that is one of the major reasons for deploying longer trucks on the roads.
- In the long-truck field trial it was found that the braking distance of a long truck is shorter than that of a conventional truck. Since the maximum permissible weight is not increased, there is no extra weight that has to be brought to a standstill. On the contrary: a long truck has more axles where the brake force is applied. The BASt study has determined the braking distance for a long truck traveling at 80 km/h: it needs 36 meters to come to a standstill. It found that a standard truck required 44 meters.
More results from the interim report on the field trial with long trucks:
- Long trucks’ greater number of axles means that no increase is expected in maintenance of the road infrastructure.
- Technical problems with the vehicles have not been observed under the conditions of the field trial.
- No indications have been observed of greater stress or increased psychological demands on the drivers of long trucks.
Long trucks in normal operations
In order to validate and possibly supplement the findings already gained, the German states that have not participated yet should now also open up to the field trial. Their active participation in the field trial will give more companies a chance to test the vehicles in use under the defined conditions of the field trial.
The following general conditions can already be formulated for the ongoing deployment of innovative vehicles/vehicle combinations in Germany after the field trial has finished.
The dimensions and weights successfully tested in the field trial should continue to apply in the future. This means:
- A combination of vehicle modules, not exceeding a maximum length of 25.25 m
- In regular operation the total weight should not exceed 40 tonnes, or 44 tonnes for the feeder and final sections in combined transport.
Most advanced safety equipment and driver qualifications
The regulations already successfully tested in the long-truck field trial should apply to the technical equipment in long trucks and to driver qualifications. This means:
- Drivers must have held a CE driver’s license for at least the last five consecutive years, and have five years of professional experience in commercial road freight traffic or works traffic.
- Long trucks must satisfy minimum technical requirements that include automatic proximity control systems, lane-keeping systems, automatic axle load monitoring, electronically controlled brake systems, rear camera systems, contour markings and tracking lights on trailers, etc.
Long trucks in regular operations: for long-distance transport but not inner cities
It must be possible to operate long trucks safely and carefully on the existing infrastructures. Therefore in the future they should continue to be used mostly on freeways and federal roads, to make the road freight traffic there even more efficient. Long trucks are not used for deliveries to inner-city areas. A network should therefore be defined:
- That includes federal freeways and all suitable federal roads.
- Additional sections of roads should be proposed for a “positive network”, and after careful examination of their usability they should be approved according to uniform nationwide criteria;
- The experiences of other European countries should be taken into consideration when defining the approved road network.