8 July 2001
83 Foot Long Trucks On Our Roads Would Be Madness - Greens
Green Party Transport Spokesperson Sue Kedgley said a Transit proposal for new rules to allow 83 foot trucks and 62
tonne trucks on our roads were sheer madness, and should be consigned swiftly to the dustbin of history.
The Transit proposals are part of a series of rules relating to truck size and safety that are being put out for public
discussion by the Land Transport Safety Authority. The LTSA have now released their discussion document on their
Ms Kedgley said Transit's proposed new rule would allow a fifty percent increase in the weight of trucks and a 25%
increase in the length of already long trucks. "Our roads are simply not designed to accommodate these juggernaut
trucks. The LTSA acknowledges that many of New Zealand's roads - even state highways - are narrow and mountainous, with
steep gradients and narrower road widths than are found in other countries. "It is quite simply hazardous for juggernaut
trucks to travel on these roads."
Ms Kedgley is calling on Transport Minister Mark Gosche to reject the proposed Transit rule changes, as heavier and
longer trucks would increase the dangers to other motorists, significantly damage our roads and undermine efforts to get
freight onto rail where it belongs.
Ms Kedgley said that while trucks make up only 3% of the total vehicle fleet in New Zealand, they were primarily
responsible for 31% of fatal crashes and 46% of injury crashes in 1996-8, according to LTSA figures. "Their figures also
show that our truck-crash rate is two to four times higher than the USA and United Kingdom," said Ms Kedgley.
"The number of trucks that are involved in crashes in New Zealand is extraordinarily high," she said. If we are to
promote road safety and reduce the number of accidents on our roads, our focus should be on getting heavy freight -
particularly toxic cargo - off our roads and onto rail or coastal shipping."
Ms Kedgley said Transit proposals to upgrade 14-16% of bridges on our roading network and to redesign many roads to
accommodate heavier trucks would be hugely expensive, and did not make sense. "The money would be much better spent
reclaiming control over New Zealand's rail network than upgrading our roads for supertrucks.
"It is absurd to encourage the trucking industry to truck even more freight by road, when there are perfectly good,
under-utilized railway lines running parallel to our state highways.
"This proposal is madness. It will further compromise the safety of motorists in New Zealand, waste a fortune of
taxpayers money in the process and undermine the viability of rail as a safe, efficient and energy efficient means of
freight transport," said Ms Kedgley.