Tuesday, 28 February 2017

'Don’t blame potholes on HGVs', cry the RHA & FTA

After the LGA warned that Pothole levels are likely to surge because of spike in number of heavy lorries, trade bodies RHA and FTA have gone on the offensive.

Well, they would wouldn’t they? The RHA rejects scapegoating of HGVs; the FTA says Lack of investment, not freight transport, to blame for potholes. Both press releases contain an assortment of alternative facts:
Larger lorries do not cause increased damage to the road surface...
Many of our worst roads have little or no HGV traffic while many of the best are used by HGVs all the time. 
...there are an increasing number of 60-tonne lorries operating on continental roads causing very little, if any damage to the road network.
For the LGA to make this sort of statement, instead of discussing the issue with the freight industry, is simply a cheap attempt to make headlines and pass over responsibility for an issue which sits in their remit.
But all this rather goes against a report from the Metropolitan Transport Research Unit entitled "Heavy Goods Vehicles - do they pay for the damage they cause?"
... damage to road surfaces rises extremely rapidly as axle weights increase, broadly in line with the 4th power law. For example, the heaviest HGV axle does over 150,000 times more damage than a typical car axle.
The largest HGVs, including all articulated vehicles and the heaviest rigids, impose high external costs which, even using the DfT 2006 Mode Shift Benefit (MSB) estimates, are not recovered by a very considerable margin... A minimum estimate is that less than 40% of these costs are being charged at present – an underpayment of about £5billion a year...
And the empirical evidence, in this case collected from two very similar bridges in California:
the bridge carrying heavier vehicles clearly and repeatedly required a significantly larger number of repairs over the decades the two were studied...
backs up what, for most people, is simply common sense.