Size matters! POLIS urges the EU to keep large and unsafe vehicles off European streets

Together with other organisations working on sustainable mobility and traffic safety, POLIS has signed a joint letter calling for the EU to close up legislative loopholes in the EU Vehicle Type Approval Regulation. These loopholes have allowed thousands of American-made pickup trucks to enter the European market, not only undermining the EU's environmental protection policies but also posing a threat to the safety of citizens. 

In its current form, the EU Vehicle Type Approval Regulation is far too lenient about the import of new pickup trucks from the United States. In the interest of citizens' safety and the protection of the environment, POLIS has joined forces with the European Transport Safety Council, Transport & Environment, the European Cyclists’ Federation, The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC), Eurocities and the International Federation of Pedestrians to pen a joint letter demanding regulatory changes.

A silent flood

This request comes after a dramatic increase in imports of large pick-up trucks from the North American market into the European Union via the loophole of “Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA)”. The use of IVA for so-called ‘off-road’ vehicles (N1G) has more than doubled since 2019, rising from 2,900 new registrations in that year to 6,800 in 2022. Dodge Ram pick-up trucks account for approximately 60% of IVAs in this category over these four years (2019 to 2022).

Within the existing legislation, vehicles slip past fundamental EU safety and environmental laws unnoticed, simply thanks to the near-sightedness of the IVA approval method. Though the method was initially intended for modified or specialized cars (eg emergency service vehicles, mobility handicapped vehicles, etc.), it has created a dangerous blind spot in the EU's automotive regulations. Notably, it exempts pickup trucks from EU CO2 standards for cars and vans as well as from the 2019 EU General Safety Regulation (GSR).

Size still matters

The bottom line? These vehicles are not fit for European cities.

They are dangerous for several reasons, namely because their front ends are frequently higher than the average height of young children, making it difficult for drivers to spot some of the most vulnerable road users. Moreover, pick-up trucks such as these are more difficult to manoeuvre than standard vehicles, a challenge only made worse by the size of many European city streets.

Therefore, it should hardly come as a surprise that these vehicles have been shown to kill and injure road users more frequently than ordinary automobiles when they get into collisions. According to Pedro Homem Gouveia, Coordinator of POLIS WG on Safety & Security, it would be more fitting to call vehicles of this dimension "dangerous road users."

Good examples of outsized and dangerous vehicles are the Ford F-150 or the (in)famous Dodge Ram, a pickup truck weighing more than 2.5 tonnes, with a width of as much as 2.6 meters.

A much-needed call to action

In the letter, POLIS and the aforementioned organisations urge the European Commission (EC) to adopt the necessary measures to ensure that all vehicles entering the EU's new vehicle market comply with Europe's relevant environmental and safety legislation. In particular, updates to the requirements of the IVA method and the relevant type approval legislation are needed to effectively prevent unsuitable and unsafe vehicles from crowding Europe's streets.

You can read the full joint letter by clicking on the attached file on the right.