An MEP and a trade union from the Netherlands have joined calls for auxiliary air conditioning systems to be fitted to as standard in all the lorries operating within the European Union.
Dutch Social Democratic MP Vera Tax and the Christian National Trade Union Federation (CNV) say that the move is necessary for driver health, road safety and increased summer temperatures caused by climate change.
The two parties are now lobbying the European Commission in the hope of making the change. Vera Tax argues that drivers must stay cool, and that it is both uneconomical and bad for the environment to keep truck engines running:
All trucks in which drivers are called to spend the night must be fitted with cabin cooling systems as standard. Drivers must be allowed to sleep at night in summer, without the engine having to run, which costs an average of 20 liters of diesel, according to calculations by the CNV union. It’s expensive and bad for the environment.
According to the CNV, it costs around €3,000 for the installation of standard air conditioning.
Attempts have long been made to extend the use of auxiliary air conditioning in trucks across the EU. Until recently, however, little has been forthcoming.
On the other hand, recent comments from Matthew Baldwin, deputy director of Transport in the European Commission, show that might be about to change:
The idea is interesting. We will study the file, even if it is part of the health and safety matters that are the responsibility of employers. If an employer feels it is too hot at night to sleep in the cab, they should equip their truck appropriately.
According to a study cited by the CNV trade union, the number of accidents involving a truck increases by 11% when the temperature exceeds 22 °C in the cabin at night. Above 32 ° C, the figure rises to 22%.
In the Netherlands, one in every five trucks are said to be equipped with air conditioning. The union intends to address the issue during the upcoming negotiations on salary and conditions in the country.
The German transport federation, the BGL, also says it is open on the question “provided that the file is dealt with at a European level.” It says air conditioning systems could improve driver comfort, thereby increasing road safety.