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Trial Successful -- Heavy Trucks May Be On The Way

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, June 29 NZPA - Heavier trucks could be on the road by 2010 if an amendment is passed following a successful trial, Transport Minister Steven Joyce says.

The amendment would create a permit system allowing some trucks to carry up to 50 tonnes on specified routes. The statutory limit is currently 44.

A trial that ran from last year showed productivity increased between 10 and 20 percent, trip numbers reduced by 16 percent and fuel use dropped 20 percent, Mr Joyce said.

Reduced freight costs would help exporters and New Zealand "grow faster out of the current global recession".

It would also mean fewer trucks on the road which would ease congestion and frustration, Mr Joyce said.

"During the trials emissions, noise and vibration effects of heavier vehicles were also tested and results showed no measurable increase in any of these impacts.

"In fact, there will be a decrease in total emissions with a reduction in the number of vehicle movements."

The trucks will be heavier but not larger.

The Land Transport Rule -- Vehicle Dimensions and Mass Amendment, subject to consultation, could be signed off by the end of 2009 with application for permits starting in 2010, Mr Joyce said.

But, Green MP Sue Kedgley said heavier trucks would endanger lives.

Although trucks account for only 4 percent of the road fleet they are involved in 23 percent of all crashes, she said.

Heavier trucks are a "major road safety hazard" because those hit by a heavier truck will suffer more damage, Ms Kedgley said.

"Cars will come off even worse off (than now)."

Heavy trucks will also take longer to stop, cause more damage to roads and New Zealand roads were ill-equipped for heavy trucks because they are windy, narrow and steep, she said.

We should be moving freight by rail -- often the "roads run alongside the (train) tracks" and freight trains are running under capacity.

Former Transport Minister Annette King launched the trial last year and said extra road maintenance charges was an issue.

Trucks already accrue higher Road User Charges.

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