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Juggernaut rules needed for juggernaut trucks

6 December 2007

Juggernaut rules needed for juggernaut trucks

Permits for bigger trucks need to have very tight conditions Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says.

"There is no way most New Zealand roads could cope with the increased size and weight of juggernaut trucks, and nor should they have to," she says.

"Some milk trucks are already unable to be fully laden because of the weight rules, and there is a case for them to be able to travel full with no impact on other traffic. However we do not agree this should be extended to allowing other trucks to be even longer and wider and higher."

The Greens are particularly concerned about the safety aspects of having bigger trucks on the road.

"Many New Zealand roads are narrow and twisty, trucks are already involved in disproportionately more accidents than other vehicles, and the sight of trucks crossing the centre lines around tight corners will become even more common."

Trucks are four percent of the road fleet yet are involved in 23 percent of all crashes.

"Moving freight by rail is much safer than using roads which are not designed for heavy loads. Rail is five times more energy efficient than trucks per tonne/kilometre. Wherever it is possible, we need to get freight off our roads and onto rail where it belongs, rather than undermining rail as larger trucks will do."

Government figures show that trucks pay only 56 percent of the costs they cause to the economy as a whole, while rail pays 86 percent.

If any permits are to be issued, the Greens propose the following conditions:

* Road User Charges be priced to reflect the full costs of road transport as calculated in the Land Transport Costs and Charges Study.

* Permits should only be issues for roads which have ample width and no tight corners, and where rail is not available as an alternative route.

* After a year the firm should be able to demonstrate that the total number of their trucks on the road has decreased as a result of the trial.

* Other road users, not just trucking interests, must be consulted before permits are issued.

"The Government has not consulted with one of the key stakeholders beside the truck industry - other road users! The Ministry of Transport revealed that of the 61 agencies consulted with, 55 represent trucking organisations. No public interest groups or road-user groups were consulted, not even the AA."


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