Plan to allow heavier trucks “insanity” - expert

It’s dangerous and wasteful to allow heavier trucks on New Zealand roads, says the car buyers’ Dog & Lemon Guide.

Commenting after the government announced that it would allow trucks of up to 53 tonnes on public roads, Dog & Lemon Guide editor Clive Matthew-Wilson said:

“This is insane. Not only is this incredibly wasteful of energy, it’s also a serious risk to other motorists. One in five trucks were found to have brake faults in 2007, and the larger the truck, the harder it is to stop.”

“Trucks make up only 4% of the vehicle fleet but cause 16% of all road deaths. This risk is only going to rise with larger trucks”

“Claims that larger trucks are part of the government’s energy-saving strategy are simply a lie. The government’s own figures show that transporting goods by rail is over five times more efficient that transporting goods by truck.” 1

“The government is also implying that road user charges will pay for the roads the trucks travel down. This is another lie. The trucking industry didn’t pay one cent for the cost of building these roads. The ordinary motorist paid for our roads, and one of the reasons our roads are so expensive to build is that they are being built to carry larger and larger trucks. The trucking industry pays a relatively small fee for some of the damage it does to the road surface. The taxpayer foots the rest of the bill.”

Matthew-Wilson believes that the trucking industry is driving much of the government’s transport strategy.

“The government’s policies start to make sense when you remember that Road Transport Forum chief executive Tony Friedlander is a former National Party cabinet minister.”

The Road Transport Forum was a major donor to political parties at the last election, contributing nearly $100,000 to Labour, National and also to individual MPs.

“We need to rethink the whole process of transportation instead of trying to patch a sinking ship. The government’s own figures show that the current road-based transport system is unsustainable, yet the government wants to expand this system.” 2

1 In 2000, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) calculated that transporting goods by road used 3.1 million units of energy to move one ton of goods one kilometre. By comparison, moving the same goods by rail used only 0.61 1 million units of energy, even allowing for the energy used when the trucks picked up the goods at the railway station.

2 “Transport consumes 219.5 PJ (44%) of energy used nationally. Freight accounts for approximately 43% of New Zealand’s transport energy use, and passenger transport 57%. In 2006 transport was responsible for 14.5 Mt of greenhouse gas emissions or 43% of New Zealand’s annual greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector. Unless action is taken, emissions from this sector are set to grow by 35% by 2030. Such an outcome is economically and environmentally unacceptable.”

Source: Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) report 2007.