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Weights and dimensions

In Europe, heavy goods vehicles, buses and coaches must comply with certain rules on weights and dimensions for road safety reasons and to avoid damaging roads, bridges and tunnels. Directive 96/53/EC sets maximum dimensions and weights for international traffic, also ensuring that Member States cannot restrict the circulation of vehicles which comply with these limits from performing international transport operations within their territories. The Directive also aims at avoiding that national operators benefit from undue advantages over their competitors from other Member States when performing national transport.

In 2015, Directive 96/53/EC has been amended by Directive (EU) 2015/719 which grants derogations on the maximal lengths to make heavy goods vehicles greener by improving their aerodynamic performance. This also provides the opportunity to make them safer by including new features in the extra space in the driver cabin. Derogations on weights are also allowed for vehicles powered by alternative fuels.

This directive has an important role in improving the functioning of the internal market and in ensuring the free movement of goods in Europe.

These rules are complemented by the requirements for type-approval of commercial vehicles laid out in Directive 97/27/EC and its implementing measures, especially Regulations 661/2009 and 1230/2012 . These legal acts (under the responsibility of the Commission's DG GROW) set the framework for putting vehicles such as light-duty and heavy-duty vehicles, buses and trailers on the market.

Concerning the issue of cross-border traffic of vehicles heavier, longer or higher than the limits set in the initial Directive, the debates leading up to the adoption of Directive (EU) 2015/719 ended with the conclusion that the rules of Directive 96/53/EC should not be modified.