The NGO Transport & Environment (T&E) has published the results of a study on the measures of Automobilesfrom which it emerged that in Europe the cars are getting bigger and bigger and I always am wider. Ma what are the consequences of these changes?
What the T&E study reveals
L’evolution of dimensions of cars in Europe is a constantly growing phenomenon, revealing a trend towards an increase in the average width of new cars registered every two years. An in-depth analysis of the data reveals a direct correlation with the increase in SUV sales, which currently make up 54% of cars purchased in Italy, according to the T&E report.
The organization emphasizes that this trend is likely to persist unless legislators in several countries act promptly, as current regulations allow new cars to reach more or less the size of a truck. One critical aspect that stands out is that approximately half of new cars sold are currently over the ideal size for on-street parking, an issue that requires immediate attention.
The director of T&E Italia, Andrea Boraschi, expresses concern for the Italian context, highlighting how the fact that the auto always be wider creates particular problems in Italian cities. These urban metropolises, initially conceived for different means of transport, risk seeing pedestrian space reduced due to SUVs and pick-ups invading pavements, jeopardizing the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and anyone on the roads.
The data from the study: increasingly wider cars
Detailed findings from T&E’s investigation reveal that the average width of new cars grew to 180.3 cm in the first half of 2023, compared to 177.8 cm in 2018. This increase is a consequence of the fact that new cars in the European Union must respect the same maximum width as buses and trucks, equal to 255 centimetres, while the minimum certified space for on-street parking is 180 centimetres.
Among the top 100 models sold in Europe in 2023, 52% of vehicles exceeded maximum width permitted for on-street parking in major cities, including London, Paris and Rome. This increase in size is particularly evident in large luxury SUVs, with vehicles such as the Land Rover Defender and Mercedes X5 seeing significant increases in just six years.
T&E also highlights how the increase inheight of vehicles, permitted by its larger dimensions, represents a serious risk factor. Citing a study conducted by the Vias Institute, it is highlighted that an increase of 10 cm in the height of the front part of vehicles leads to a 30% greater risk of fatal accidents in collisions with pedestrians and cyclists. Despite technological advances that have led to improvements in CO2 emissions, the gigantism of cars seems to more than compensate for these benefits.
The possible solutions of some European cities
The T&E survey also sheds light on the actions taken by some European cities to address the problem of ever wider cars. Paris, for example, has already introduced more restrictive parking rules for SUVs and has even proposed tripling parking fees for cars. auto particularly heavy.
A recent survey by the Clean Cities Campaign revealed that around two-thirds of Parisians favor higher parking fees for large, heavy and polluting vehicles. If these measures are approved, they would set an important precedent for many other European cities considering similar changes.
However, in Italy, a possible complication in the management of this problem could derive from the reform of the Highway Code desired by Matteo Salvini. Claudio Magliulo, Italian head of the Clean Cities Campaign, highlights how this reform could limit the action of mayors, rendering them practically immobile while waiting for ministerial decrees that could take years to be implemented.
This situation could therefore hinder the efforts of Italian municipalities in regulating the size of cars and reducing the negative impact of ever wider cars on urban areas.