Indeed, there is no legal limit on the height of a truck in the UK, though by ‘custom and practice’ 4.9 meters has been adopted as the maximum height of a trailer.
Meanwhile, in Spain, the maximum height allowed for vehicles is 4.50 meters. That is for both rigid and articulated vehicles.
This 50cm difference is a lot! Think about the implications. If I would be a truck driver I will not feel safe driving a vehicle that is higher than the max allowed. This dimension was the limit considered when building the infrastructures and roads.
I spent the summer of 2013 in Madrid working as a Construction Project Manager with a 2 months fulltime assignment as a freelancer. I had to manage the opening of two new stores for a famous English brand that sells sneakers and that was new in the country.
One day I was waiting for a delivery from England containing some shopfitting elements like lighting fixtures and cladding panels. My phone rang and I heard a nervous voice speaking with a strong British accent: it was the driver, he was 400mm away and he just had an accident. He crashed against a big tree branch that was at 4.7m height on the highway. He was safe but the vehicle was destroyed.
It sounds like another problem to solve! I asked a worker on-site to please take his car and go find the driver and its ‘broken’ truck. He managed to escort the truck to the construction site. Here you can see the foto titled ‘’British Trailer vs Spanish tree on the highway”.
As a Construction project manager, I reported the accident to all the stakeholders involved. We managed to unload all the goods, identified the damaged elements (ca. 20%) so I could ask for a replacement. I reported all the impact caused to us: the delay in the planning and the extra costs. The problem was eventually solved and the new store opened smoothly.