Govt To Allow Longer Heavier Trucks (Updated II)


Longer heavier trucks are on the way.

The transport minister Steven Joyce has got government backing for a new permit system for trucks allowing heavy (up to 53 tonnes)and  longer (up to 22 metres) vehicles on some roads.

The new rule allows permits for high productivity vehicles to operate above the current 44 tonne weight limit on specified routes.

It will come into force on 1 May. Under the permit regime, trucks will be able to be permitted up to 53 tonnes within their current dimensions.

There will also be provision for loads above 53 tonnes but these will only be granted in very specific instances.
Trucks carrying heavier loads won’t be any wider or higher than present vehicles. Roads that are allowed to be used by vehicles will be specified in their permit and road controlling authorities will have the final say on whether routes applied for are suitable for heavier vehicles.

The minister says that freight will increase by 70 to 75 percent over the next 25 years.
“While rail and coastal shipping will play an increasingly important role in meeting the freight task it is expected that the bulk of this increase will be carried on our road.
“Developing this permit system creates an environment where productivity gains in the range of 10 to 20 percent could be realised by using fewer trucks to carry a given amount of freight while enabling the impacts of heavy vehicles to be properly managed.“
This will help to reduce road congestion, operating costs, vehicle emissions and improve the road safety environment by slowing the increase in heavy vehicle movements on New Zealand’s roads.”

The Greens say that a report from the Treasury, obtained under the Official Information Act,shows that Treasury does not recommend a lifting on the restriction of heavy vehicle limits “until a more detailed analysis has been undertaken which considers the broader costs and benefits”.
Greens’ Gareth Hughes says this analysis has not been done.

“Supposed short-term productivity gains have blinded Minister into making a decision that will cost ratepayers and endanger road users. This is not a smart way to run our transport system or our economy,” said Mr Hughes.
“Bigger trucks will have a devastating impact on our roads, on the road toll, and on the viability of rail and coastal shipping.”

The last Labour government initiated a trial allowing trucks of up 50 tonnes.

Today, Labour’s Darren Hughes (do you have to be a Hughes to be a transport spokesperson?) ,says: “Steven Joyce’s obsession with diverting more heavy traffic on to regional roads and motorways along with moves to slash funding for road policing and maintenance will do nothing to keep roads safe.
““The funding to keep provincial roads safe is a shambles. National’s approach has been to starve provincial councils of funding necessary to keep regional roads safe. Many of these roads are vital to the local economy.
“National seems intent on increasing the volume of heavy traffic on our roads but isn’t willing to commit to ensuring motorists are safe on them.”

The Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Federation is elated..
The group’s president Willie van Heusden says he was heartened to see the Government “taking a more integrated approach to transport needs.”
and this new scheme will mean fewer truck journeys are needed to meet that growing demand.”

He was keen for relevant stakeholders to discuss and agree on which road corridors would be designated as suitable for the heavier vehicles.

Mr van Heusden said central and local government support for infrastructure development on key roading corridors would be vital to maximise benefits.
“We need to ensure that our roading corridors to and from key ports are upgraded to take full advantage of this initiative.
“And as productivity gains are realised savings should be passed back to the importing and exporting community.”

CBT believes the Minister should be investing more in shifting road freight to rail, which is “far safer for the nation.”

Jon Reeves from the CBT said. “Every week there are serious truck accidents. To allow even larger trucks on our roads is going to make them even more dangerous for all other motorists and pedestrians. When a substantially heavier truck crashes it makes even more carnage whether it hits a car, bus, road barrier, pedestrian or house.”

The Wood Council: “We estimate this decision could result in a 20 percent increase in productivity. For the people of Rotorua and Nelson, this would mean 8000 and 6000 fewer forestry movements through their respective cities each year.”
“We also estimate there would be a 9 percent improvement in fuel efficiency – potentially 20,000 tonnes less in annual carbon emissions than would otherwise have been the case.
“Logging vehicles are already permitted to operate up to the new 22 metre limit and this has gone unnoticed by the public. The corresponding benefit has been a 70 percent reduction in rollover crashes since 2000, thanks to the improved vehicle stability resulting from the lower centre of gravity possible with longer load.”


The Regulatory Impact Statement on bigger trucks:

Local road network statistics:




  1. ingolfson says:

    Road wear (i.e. what creates potholes, edge breaks, and everything short of land slides…) increases by the power of 4. This is internationally accepted. It is physics, unrelated to interpretation.

    So increasing the weight limit from 44 tons to 53 tons means an incease by a factor of 1.2. Calculating: 1.2 x 1.2 x 1.2 x 1.2 = 2.1

    Every one of these heavier trucks will do as much damage as more than two 44 ton trucks, even though it only carries 20% more freight. In other word, if the freight industry were really going to go for it, they would double the damage they do to NZ’s roads, at very little (comparative) effiency gain.

    And for those who may wonder: None - almost literally none - of NZ’s road wear is done by cars, despite the fact that they are much more plentiful. Compared to trucks, it takes many thousands of individual cars before you produce the damage that one individual truck does passing once (because the power of 4 works in reverse too, and cars are pretty light, in the 0.5-2 tons range).

    In summary: this is not “taking a more integrated approach to transport needs.”. Unless the permits are hugely expensive, and the money funelled back to the local authorities who need to fix the roads, it is one big rort which will see our roads ripped up.

  2. rtc says:

    And this is despite all local councils being against the proposed changes and the govt. also refusing to cover the costs of increased wear. Looks like Joyce is completely beholden to the trucking lobby.

  3. Jeremy Harris says:

    @Jon, Greens spokesman is Gareth Hughes…

    I’ve talked to a couple of council people who have simply said they won’t allow the heavier trucks on local roads unless the government stumps up with the cash for repairs… So unless they have reneged on this or the government is going to change the legislation so it controls local roads I say good luck to him, he’ll need it…

  4. Jon C says:

    @Jeremy Thanks. I knew I would make that mistake! He’s doing a good job

  5. ingolfson says:

    “So unless they have reneged on this or the government is going to change the legislation so it controls local roads I say good luck to him, he’ll need it…”

    Or unless they will be told that “The minister is very unhappy with the fact that X Council still has not given out a single heavy vehicle permit for trucks over 44. Such an obstructionist attitude harm New Zealand’s economy, and makes us wonder why X Council expects us to fund half the share of their nomal road works…” [Hint: Screw with us, and you'll never see funding for anything but road markings ever again].

    Also, Auckland Transport will be writing blank cheques for any truck operator who asks, seeing that it is staffed with Joyce/Hide appointees. In five years (assuming that Joyce is still in power), he can then propose a Road-Fixing program of National Significance.

  6. DanC says:

    That’s a lot of weight to be in the hands of tired truck drivers.

  7. Andrew says:

    When did this proposal sneak up from 50 tonnes to 53?

  8. Jon R says:

    This proposal has been 53 (or more) tonnes for over a year now. The Campaign For Better Transport made submissions against the rule change, so did 95 CBT members. The majority of all submissions on the rule change was AGAINST the change.

    The Road Transport Forum is holding power over this Govt and we can all clearly see that by the sudden huge swing to all things roading (to help trucks) and their anti KiwiRail attitude.

    Write to your local MP and tell him you don’t want to pay higher rates to fund the local road upgrades for these DANGEROUS trucks.

  9. George Darroch says:

    The Road Transport Forum have easily got their money’s worth from their friends in the National Party.


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