Maximum vehicle gross weight in European countries

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The numerous laws, rules and agreements that must be followed while operating heavy goods vehicles overseas also include the regulations concerning Maximum Gross Weight of the vehicles. In the European Community countries, after admission of Sweden and Finland, where for competitive and environmental reasons longer and heavier vehicle combination than those in the EU Directives had long been permitted, a new approach was developed to increase capacity. The Directive 96/53/EC and the European Modular System (EMS) now regulate increased vehicle length and weight on appointed road networks on the condition that established EU modules were used. The EMS is based on two load units:
1. Short module (SM)- Dimensions equal to ISO container 20ft / Swap body CEN Class C 7,15m 7,45m 7,82m
2. Long module (LM) – Dimensions equal to ISO container 40ft / 13,6m semitrailer / 45 ft container

The existing modules can be used to form longer and heavier vehicle combinations beyond the limits of requirements valid in national territories of Member States.
The EMS system invites a number of opportunities for the transport providers, environment protection and road safety. First of all it increases transport efficiency and economic competitiveness – the possibility to rearrange the modules into shorter or longer combinations makes it possible to adopt the fleet to current needs. Moreover it reduces the number of vehicles for a given amount of goods in this way reducing global and local environmental impact and improving traffic safety by reducing congestion and road wear.
The EMS is based on existing load units and vehicles and already used for many years in Sweden and Finland was also tested in the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany with positive results.
The ideas can be brought closer by the results of the research made by Volvo. For example 106 euro palettes (600 kg/palette) can be carried either by:
– two 25,25 truck sets (tractor+LM+SM) – which take up 130m space on the road and use 16 liters of fuel per 1000 tonkm,
– one 18,75 and two 16,5 truck sets ( tractor +SM+SM and 2x tractor+LM) – which take up 172 m space on the road and use 19 liters of fuel per 1000 tonkm,
If smaller vehicles were used the space on the road taken would be bigger as well as the usage of fuel, which proves the point for EMS.

As far as the Maximum Gross Weight is concerned, according to the Directive 96/53/EC the numbers are presented in the table below for selected European countries:

Country Weight per non-drive/drive axle LORRIES 2 axles/3 axles ROAD TRAINS 4 axles/5 axles + ARTICULATED VEHICLES 5 axles +
Country Weight per non-drive/drive axle LORRIES 2 axles/3 axles ROAD TRAINS 4 axles/5 axles + ARTICULATED VEHICLES 5 axles +
Belgium 10/12 19/26 39/44 44
Bulgaria 10/11,5 18/26 36/40 40
Czech Rep 10/11,5 18/26 36/44 42-48
Denmark 10/10-11,5 18/24-26 38/42-48 42-48
Germany 10/11,5 18/26 36/40 40
Estonia 10/11,5 18/26 36/40 40
Ireland 10/11,5 18/26 36/44 44
Greece 7-10/13 19/26 33/40 40
Spain 10/11,5 18/26 36/40 42-44
France 13/13 19/26 38/40 40
Italy 12/12 18/26 40/44 44
Latvia 10/11,5 18/26 40/40 40
Lithuania 10/11,5 18/26 36/40 40-44
Luxembourg 10/11,5 19/26 44/44 44
Hungary 10/11,5 18/25 30/40 40
Malta 10/11,5 18/25 36/40 40
Netherlands 10/11,5 21,5/33 40/50 50
Austria 10/11,5 18/26 36/40 40
Poland 10/11,5 18/26 36/40 40
Portugal 10/12 19/26 37/40 40
Romania 10/11,5 18/26 36/40 40
Slovenia 10/11,5 18/26 36/40 40
Slovak Rep 10/11,5 18/26 36/40 40
Finland 10/11,5 18/26 36/40 42-48
Sweden 10/11,5 18/26 36/44-60 48-60
United Kingdom 10/11,5 18/26 36/40 40-44
Croatia 10/11,5 18/24 36/40 40
Republic of Macedonia 10/11,5 18/26 36/40 40
Turkey 10/11,5 18/25-26 36/40 40-44
Iceland 10/11,5 18/26 36/40 44
Norway 10/11,5 19/26 37/42 44
Switzerland 10/11,5 18/26 36/40 40
Lichtenstein 10/11,5 18/26 36/40 40

*Notes to the table: An articulated vehicle consists of a road tractor coupled to a semi-trailer. A road train is a goods road motor vehicle coupled to one or more trailers.
In some cases there may be additional conditions to the international rules, therefore it is advisable to check national regulations for details.

Please note that this figures are up to date at the point of publishing this post and may be out of date.

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