Why the EU allows longer truck cabs - and why it is important for your business

Tomas Thuresson
Technology & Innovation Fuel efficiency Safety Driver
Tomas Thuresson
Commercialization Manager New Offer

Improving fuel efficiency, aerodynamics and driver comfort. Those were the main reasons behind the decision to allow longer truck cabs on European roads. The regulations align with the EU’s climate goals and could have significant implications for trucking businesses.


Truck designs in Europe have remained largely unchanged for many decades, featuring a short-nosed cabin to maximize the length of the load. These short-nosed cabs, often called cab-over engine (COE) designs, dominate mainly because European legislation limits the entire length of the vehicle, including trailer and tractor. In the US on the other hand, length limits apply only to the trailer, explaining why long-nosed cabs dominate American roads.


However, changes in European legislation introduced in 2020 now permit for slightly more long-nosed trucks in Europe as well. This opens for design changes that can make trucks more aerodynamic, safer, and more comfortable.


“We welcome this legislation since it gives us the opportunity to improve energy efficiency of the cabs through design even more, which will benefit both our customers and the environment,” says Tomas Thuresson, Commercialization Manager New Offer at Volvo Trucks.

How the environment and the trucking industry benefit

Under the new legislation, truck manufacturers are allowed to extend truck cabins without compromising loading space*. By enhancing aerodynamics, the improved design is projected to decrease fuel usage, benefiting both the environment and the trucking industry's operational costs. Lower fuel consumption means lower CO2 emissions, which means the regulation also supports the EU’s climate goals.


Dr Phil Martin, Head of Transport Safety with the UK based nonprofit consultancy TRL, has been heavily involved in the research that led up to the amendments in the European legislation:


“Improving the aerodynamics of trucks and the EU’s decarbonization agenda initially drove the need for the updated regulations. But it was also important to ensure that introducing these cab length derogations didn't result in more harm to vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians and cyclists. And actually, it became an opportunity to improve the safety of trucks for these vulnerable road users,” he says.

The new legislation opens for design changes that can make trucks more aerodynamic, safer, and more comfortable.

Why longer cabs have improved visibility

So even though it began with a need for better aerodynamics, improved direct vision has also become an advantage of the new cab design. The longer cab nose makes it easier for the driver to see pedestrians when they move around the front since they are situated a bit further away.


How will new cab designs affect drivers?

Additionally, the legislation can in some cases improve driver comfort and consequently trucking businesses can have the opportunity to choose a more spacious layout. This can improve working conditions and contribute to enhanced job satisfaction among truck drivers.


”All in all, I would say there is great potential for hauliers to become an operator of choice, both for their customers and employees. By adopting trucks with these enhanced cab designs, they will have the potential to offer safer and environmentally friendly vehicles, as well as better working conditions. Operating costs will also likely be reduced thanks to lower fuel consumption, particularly for long-haul operations, and possibly also better insurance premiums due to a reduction in incidents,” says Dr Phil Martin. 


The common rules for heavy-duty vehicles in the EU are laid down in Council Directive 96/53/EC, popularly known as the Weights and Dimensions Directive. The directive was amended subsequently by Directive (EU) 2015/719ENDecision (EU) 2019/984EN and Regulation (EU) 2019/1242EN. The amendments means that vehicles or vehicle combinations may exceed the maximum lengths specified “provided that their cabs deliver improved aerodynamic performance, energy efficiency and safety performance.” 


1985: The EU introduces the first directive on weights and dimensions for commercial vehicles, aiming to harmonize rules across member states.
1996: The EU adopts a directive establishing maximum dimensions for certain categories of commercial vehicles.
2015: The EU introduces a directive on the weights and dimensions of trucks involved in international transport, aiming to further harmonize rules and ensure equal conditions across member states.
2020: The EU implements new legislation allowing for extended truck cabins, emphasizing fuel efficiency, driver comfort and safety.

Learn more about upcoming legislation that will impact trucking businesses here:

EU’s updated General Safety Regulations (GSR). You can also read more about the importance of aerodynamics and its effects on fuel consumption. If you are more interested in the spacious cab options, watch this video.



* The legislation does not provide an exact length restriction but instead refers to a three-dimensional drawing outlined in the legal text – the Three-dimensional cab envelope.