Currently the maximum length of goods vehicles for use in the European Union, set by EC Directive 96/53/EC, is limited to 16.5 metres for articulated vehicles and 18.75 metres for drawbar combinations. The Directive does not set an absolute weight limit, but specifies certain limits which, if met, guarantee free circulation of goods vehicles within the EU. The maximum weight limit for general EU circulation is 40 tonnes carried on a 5 axle vehicle no more than 4m tall. However, some countries deviate from these standards, for example, in Belgium the maximum weight limit for general freight on a 5 axle vehicle is 44 tonnes and in the UK there is no height limit meaning trucks of up to approximately 4.9m tall are in circulation.

The European Commission is considering the possibility of making amendments to Directive 96/53/EC in light of proposals from stakeholders and practice in various Member States. A consortium of companies, led by TRL, was appointed to study the likely effects of such amendments. This is the inception report for the study and reviews the many different proposals and practice that could be considered as potential policy options, rationalises these to produce a set of options for detailed analysis and then presents the analytical approach that will be used later in the project to assess the likely effects of these options.

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