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Big trucks are big trouble

Big trucks are big trouble

Longer, heavier trucks will soon be on our roads meaning drivers should brace themselves for more road carnage, and more road damage, the Green Party said today.

The Government has today announced that heavier (up to 53 tonnes), longer (up to 22 metres) trucks will now be allowed to operate on our roads.

“Bigger trucks will have a devastating impact on our roads, on the road toll, and on the viability of rail and coastal shipping,” said Green Party transport spokesperson Gareth Hughes.

“Already trucks are involved in 16 percent of all deaths on the roads, even though they comprise only four percent of the vehicle fleet. Motorists will face even greater danger driving around increasing numbers of giant trucks.

“Ratepayers are also going to be subsidising these bigger trucks by paying for the increased damage they will inflict on our local roading network,” Mr Hughes said.

Hundreds of thousands of journeys in 53 tonne trucks will exponentially increase the damage to our roads. Increased RUC (Road User Charges) will not cover the increased costs of damage done to local roads. Neither will they cover the upgrading of hundreds of bridges in our road network to accommodate the increased loads.

“Most of the claimed productivity gains simply reflect the shifting of costs from trucking companies onto ratepayers,” said Mr Hughes.

“For example, benefit cost calculations for this decision were made on the assumption of an additional $150 million needed over 10 years for bridge upgrades. The actual cost of bridge upgrades could easily approach $380 million according to the Ministry of Transport’s own analysis. Trucking companies will not be paying for these additional costs. Motorists and ratepayers will.”

Freight volumes are forecast to grow by around 75 percent by 2030 and the vast bulk would go by heavy truck unless Transport Minister Steven Joyce takes a more strategic look at moving freight by more sustainable alternatives. KiwiRail estimates they will lose 12% of their freight tonnes because of this move to heavier trucks.

"Rail freight and coastal shipping are more sustainable, safe, and energy efficient modes for moving freight. Yet there has, to date, been no analysis of how allowing bigger trucks will undermine our rail and sea freight systems," Mr Hughes said.

In a report from the Treasury obtained under the Official Information Act, Treasury does not recommend a lifting on the restriction of heavy vehicle limits "until a more detailed analysis has been undertaken which considers the broader costs and benefits". This analysis has not been done.

"Supposed short-term productivity gains have blinded Minister into making a decision that will cost ratepayers and endanger road users. This is not a smart way to run our transport system or our economy," said Mr Hughes.

ENDS

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