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Heavier freight will endanger other road users

29 May 2008

Heavier freight will endanger other road users

Heavier trucks on New Zealand roads will endanger the lives of other road users and undermine incentives to use safe and sustainable transport such as rail and shipping, Green Party MP Sue Kedgley says.

The government has announced today a wide ranging trial allowing heavier trucks on roads and ferries.

"Heavier 50 tonne juggernaut trucks on our roads will have a major impact on road safety, and will mean more trucks competing with mum and the kids in their lightweight, two door hatchback," Ms Kedgley says.

"Currently, trucks are only four percent of the road fleet, yet they are involved in 23 percent of all crashes. Heavier trucks with slower braking times can only mean more crashes and more fatalities. Someone who may have survived a 44 tonne impact, will have much less chance with 50 tonnes.

"However, neither mum nor dad had a say in the development of this trial because the government didn't consider it worthwhile consulting with any road user groups. This policy was created behind locked doors, and the end result is clearly out of touch with the actual needs of real people.

"Why is the Ministry unleashing 50 tonne trucks on the unsuspecting public when officials briefing me last year admitted there has been no consultation with motorists, the impact on road fatalities was unknown, and a new system of road user charges was still to be worked out?

"Obviously, the government has bowed to industry pressure, and put the interests of the trucking industry ahead of road safety and the planet," Ms Kedgley says.

"Their reasoning that there will be fewer trucks on the road because of the increased weight limit is ridiculous. A six tonne increase will make moving produce by truck a far more economically attractive option than the current 44 tone limit," Ms Kedgley says.

"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. We need to get freight off our roads and onto rail where it belongs, and invest in building more track to places not currently serviced.

"Unless the government adopts the Green Party's suggestion that the total number of trucks on the road must be proven to have decreased as a result of this trial, we can only consider this trial the thin end of an unsafe and unsustainable wedge."


ENDS

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