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5-year-olds to contend with even heavier trucks

5-year-olds to contend with even heavier trucks

Children forced to walk State Highway 2 to get to Maramarua School deserve to see the evidence the Minister of Transport has for saying that "heavier trucks tend to be safer".

Jeanette Fitzsimons Co-Leader of the Green Party says that the Government did not consult any public interest groups or private road-users before reaching a recent decision to trial a permit system to allow bigger trucks on our roads.

"The Transport Ministry revealed that all of the 61 agencies consulted with represent trucking organisations or producers who use their services. Certainly the school kids of Maramarua were not consulted.

"As a result, 5 to 13-year-olds must now face a terrifying situation of having to walk or cycle to school along a known black spot on State Highway 2, and have even bigger, heavier and slower to stop trucks to contend with along the way," Ms Fitzsimons says.

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

Trucks travel only seven percent of the total distance of the entire national road fleet, yet are involved in 21 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 putting children at risk through this unnecessary focus on road transport."

The Green Party has proposed the following conditions to any new truck licensing laws:

* 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 issued for roads which have ample width and no tight corners, and where rail or coastal shipping are 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.

ends

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