Monday, May 14, 2018

High Fines, Potholes and Pollution Make Road Haulage Drivers and Freight Operators Lives a Misery

UK Association Speaks Out on the Issues Concerning Trucking Companies
Shipping News Feature
UK – ITALY – The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has been particularly active of late, advising members of some particularly important changes which will affect road freight operations both at home and abroad. Potholes and pollution are high on the domestic agenda whilst we start with a serious warning for those operators plying their trade on the continent.

As from the beginning of this month the Italian authorities are enforcing the rule that drivers cannot take their 45-hour rest breaks within their cabs. Traditionally of course intercontinental drivers have habitually slept in the cab, both overnight and when stranded far from home, usually over a weekend waiting to reload on a Monday.

Such practices are exactly what the modern lorry cab is designed for, but now penalties ranging between €422 and €1,800 are being imposed if a roadside check reveals the practice. There is also the possibility that similar enforcement will occur in Spain from July 1. The RHA says it will keep members informed.

Meanwhile back in the UK pollution and potholes top the agenda. With less money available to local authorities the situation has been worsened by a prolonged spell of changeable weather and now the AA, which operates a #FlagitFunditFillit campaign says the cost to motorists, haulage companies and insurers tops £1 million a month as more vehicles suffer damage, mainly due to tyre, steering and suspension problems.

Once again the RHA has raised the matter with government, pointing out that the results were quite predictable given the current level of neglect. RHA chief executive, Richard Burnett observed:

“The Government and local authorities must do more to bring the network up to standard. Currently, many roads are full of cracks waiting to turn into dangerous potholes that can cause collisions. Local roads where hauliers make their last-mile deliveries are often in an even worse state and the damage to HGVs, in particular to their suspension systems, can be considerable. More potholes means more breakdowns, more roadworks and more delays. And delays to a ‘just in time’ economy are disastrous for business.”

On the matter of pollution, particularly in urban areas, the RHA has now released its 2018 Nitrous Oxide (NOx) emission assessment which it says is to ‘clarify how lorries impact our air quality and to correct some of the myths that are feeding the drive to charge all non-Euro 6 lorries for entering our cities.’

The RHA sees the rush to change standards as targeting the road freight and transport industry generally as unfair, pointing out that in 2015 only 7.6% of the UK’s NOx was emitted by trucks and buses. Additionally lorry NOx emissions have dropped in the region of 43% in the past 5 years and predictions are this will grow to 70% by 2021.

The problem of course is that, whilst authorities across Europe wish to see only Euro VI vehicles on the roads, 2021 will still see a massive 37% of trucks in the UK below this standard, 28% being Euro V, and therefore comparatively recent additions to most fleets. There are no retrofit options for pre Euro lorries and the taxes proposed cannot be avoided as the fleet of Euro VI vehicles will not be big enough to meet freight demand in Clean Air Zone cities, some as soon as the end of next year.

The RHA has published a paper called ‘Intelligent Phasing’ listing the difficulties and cost of replacing a fleet of UK wide vehicles, estimating the cost at around £12,500 million to replace the 180,000+ pre Euro VI lorries still in service in 2021 with new Clean Air Zone compliant Euro VI lorries. The RHA considers government and local Clean Air Zone and Road Levy ‘pay to pollute’ policies wrong-headed and says it has based all its statistics on the administration’s own figures.