Trucks do the most damage on our roads, but pay the least towards fixing them

20% of the road toll involves trucks. Seven members of the same family died in this head-on collision with a truck near Picton. They were not speeding.


call by the Road Transport Forum for increased spending on roads is “utterly hypocritical” says the car review website

The Road Transport Forum represents the trucking industry, and spokesperson Nick Leggett recently blamed Waka Kotahi and the New Zealand government for the poor state of the nation’s roads. editor Clive Matthew-Wilson, who is an outspoken road safety campaigner, says:

“About two thirds of the cost of building new highways goes into making them strong enough for large vehicles, which are mainly trucks. Excluding events such as storm damage, about 80% of all road maintenance costs are the result of the damage caused by trucks.”

“Yet, the trucking industry pays less than 23% of the costs of building and maintaining these highways.”


“The fact is: the reason that our roads are so expensive to build is because of the trucking industry. The reason that our roads are in such bad condition is largely because of the trucking industry. The reason that our roads are so expensive to repair is because of the trucking industry. Yet the same trucking industry, which pays less than a quarter of the costs of these same roads, now criticises the government for not spending enough on roads. This is breathtaking hypocrisy.”

Matthew-Wilson says the government should make the trucking industry pay the full costs of the damage they cause and the full costs of building roads in the first place.

“Truck drivers are not the enemy here. The enemy is a cosy historical arrangement between the trucking industry and the government, that allows the trucking companies to grow rich at the taxpayers’ expense.”

“Worse, while the trucking companies get rich, the railways struggle and major road safety improvements don’t happen.”

Matthew-Wilson says truck Road User Charges should be gradually increased until they cover the full truck-related costs.

Matthew-Wilson wants these increased charges to be spent on road safety improvements and rail.

Nearly 20% of the road toll involves trucks. In 1980, accidents involving trucks made up 12% of the road toll. In 2019, accidents involving trucks made up nearly 20% of the road toll. That’s one of the major reasons our road toll is still high.”

The government’s own studies show that rail freight is at least twice as efficient as road freight. Moving freight by sea is also many times more efficient than trucks. The only reason that trucking companies prosper is because they don’t pay the true costs of the roads they travel down.”

“We need milk tankers and delivery trucks. We don’t need most of the longhaul truck-and-trailer units that roar down our state highways.”