Road users urged to submit against law change allowing bigger trucks
The Campaign For Better Transport is urging concerned road users and organisations to make submissions against the Government’s proposal to let larger and heavier trucks on our roads from next year.
Spokesperson Cameron Pitches says the move would greatly increase the risk of an increase in the number of accidents involving trucks.
“If existing trucks are allowed to carry much heavier loads, braking distances will have to increase leaving less room for error. Rollover accidents are will also be more likely as heavier containers will have a higher centre of gravity,” says Mr Pitches.
“Trucks are already involved in a disproportionate number of accidents. This can only get worse if we allow these changes go through.”
Earlier this year, Police ran a road safety blitz targeting trucks on concerns that half of all fatal accidents on State Highway 1 in the South Island involve trucks.
Proposed changes to transport rules will allow large trucks “with a gross mass of up to and including 53,000 kg or more” on to the roads, subject to a permit being issued by the New Zealand Transport Agency. Logging trucks will also be 2m longer.
Standard sized trucks will also be allowed to carry heavier loads as allowable axle loadings are being increased under the proposals. Truck and trailer units are currently limited to 44 tonnes.
“The accepted formula is that if you double the size of the truck, you will do sixteen times the damage to the road,” says Mr. Pitches.
“In moving from 44 to 53 tonnes, twice as much damage will result for each truck movement. It would be unreasonable of the trucking industry to expect other road users to carry this additional cost. We are also concerned at moves to replace road user charges with a flat diesel tax, which would effectively subsidise the trucking industry even further.”
Government claims that the change would result in fewer trucks on the road were also rubbished by the Campaign for Better Transport.
“Unless the trucking industry is about to make hundreds of truck drivers redundant, claims that there will be fewer trucks on the road are laughable,” says Mr Pitches.
The New Zealand Transport Agency projects the amount of freight to be moved on New Zealand’s roads will double in the next 20 years.
In launching the proposed changes, Minister of Transport Steven Joyce said that New Zealand would receive productivity gains of $250-$500 million. However, attempts by the Campaign for Better Transport for the report containing the figures were blocked by officials, as it “contains commercially sensitive information gained from the freight/trucking companies who took part.”
“Without being permitted to see the business case for heavy trucks, we remain sceptical about the costs and benefits,” says Mr Pitches.
Submissions close Friday, 24th July and can be made online through the Better Transport website www.bettertransport.org.nz