The European association of abnormal road transport and mobile cranes – ESTA – is stepping up its lobbying of authorities in Brussels to persuade them to strengthen the proposed revision of the Weights and Dimensions Directive – a development that could have a great impact on the transport industry for years to come.


The directive 96/53/EC sets out the rules for heavy-duty vehicles operating on Europe’s roads and related regulations governing heavy and abnormal transport. The revision presents a major opportunity for the authorities to deal with the many difficulties being faced by transport operators while at the same time improving safety and the industry’s efficiency.

ESTA has already welcomed the proposals as they stand but argues that much greater improvements are within the industry’s grasp. To that end ESTA is currently putting a series of amendments to the Transport and Tourism Committee of the European Parliament where the revisions are currently being scrutinised. It is also asking its member associations to urgently make their voices heard both within Brussels and their national governments.

ESTA director Ton Klijn said: “We have been lobbying for changes for many years and it appears that we are now being heard. We have a once in a lifetime chance to get at least some of the things we dearly need introduced into EU law.”

The proposed revisions to directive 96/53/EC were published by the European Commission in July. They are intended to deal with three issues:
• Fragmentation of the market for longer and heavier vehicles
• Ineffective and inconsistent enforcement
• Low uptake of zero-emission heavy-duty vehicles

At the time, Klijn said the document “contains many positive elements that can give abnormal road transport operators new opportunities to further improve operational efficiency, to better cooperate with other transport modes and to reduce the industry’s environmental footprint”.

In particular, ESTA has welcomed the proposals for the introduction of a one-stop-shop for permits, the compulsory introduction of a standardised application form and the obligation on EU member states to cooperate on the requirements for vehicle signalling and transport markings.

However, ESTA said that some of the proposals urgently need clarification, especially regarding how any new regulations might be enforced, while some subjects have been omitted or postponed – such as ESTA’s long-standing request for the use of electronic permits and the development of Europe-wide ‘corridors’ for abnormal road transport which would aid industry and allow national governments to focus spending on core, essential infrastructure projects.