The Economic Impact of Regulating Truck Heights to 4 Meters: the Case of Norway

The Economic Impact of Regulating Truck Heights to 4 Meters: the Case of Norway


J Odeck, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, NO


This paper assesses the economic impacts of adopting a 4 meter restriction on heavy vehicles as proposed by the EU. It shows that such a move would lead to a socio-economic loss of euros 166 million per year or euros 8 billion in a 25 years period.


The European commission has proposed legislation, under its system of Whole Vehicle Type Approval (WVTA), which will limit the height of trucks to 4 meters. This proposal if adopted by Norway, who is an associate member of the EU, would bring Norway into line with twenty of the EU25 countries which currently impose a 4 meter height limit on trucks. The EU proposal however, does not force member and associate countries to implement the proposal fully; it only requires that international truck traffic to abide the 4 meter limit while national traffic is uncensored. This puts pressure on member and associate member countries to adopt one of the following options: (1) either adopt the 4 meter limit for all traffic and conform to the majority of member countries or, (4) implement the 4 meter regulation for international traffic and maintain a different height regulation for national traffic. Countries that so far have chosen the latter option include Sweden and Finland with a limit of 4,2 for national traffic, and the UK with a limit of 4,5 meters for national traffic. Norway is currently evaluating which option to choose from. It basically has two options; either to conform to the majority of the EU countries at 4 meters or to choose 4,2 meters for national traffic due to its proximity to Sweden and Finland such that the Nordic countries who trade most with each other pursue the same regulations.

To aid its decision-making with regard to the EU proposal, the Norwegian road authorities authorized in 2010 an economic impact assessment of the proposal if adopted. The two alternative options named above were to be evaluated against the today's situation which is; no height limit as long as the truck can pass tunnels and under bridges. The tolerance height of tunnels and brigdes are according to sign-posts on routes.

This paper quantifies the economic impact that would results if Norway implemented the 4,0 meter regulation of truck heights as suggested by the EU and alternatively, a regulation to 4,2 meter for national truck traffic while maintaining the 4 meter for international truck traffic. The data for the analysis builds primarily on the expected increase in fleet size of trucks that will be required to accommodate the load capacity.

The analysis suggests that if the heights of trucks are restricted to 4 meters in Norway, then following will occur:(1)Haulage companies will have to increase their vehicle fleet size to accommodate the same load capacity and it will cost extra EUR 160 million annually to distribute the same goods, (2) Due to increased vehicle fleet, the emission of dioxides(CO2 and NOx) will increase by about EUR 6 million annually and, (3)The increased cost of accidents will amount to EUR 1.25 million annually.

The conclusion is that the EU proposal if implemented will have a detrimental impact on the Norwegian haulage sector, the environment and road accidents. In total it will amount to a loss of EUR 166 million annually and a total of EUR 8 billion in a 25 years period. We reccomend that the restriction should be set at 4,2 meter as the loss will be much less.


Association for European Transport