Study reveals truth about trucks

Lorries cause far more environmental damage and congestion than previously thought, and are twice as likely to kill than cars, according to a new report published today. (1)

[mailchimp_signup][/mailchimp_signup]Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from European road freight are predicted to increase 54% by 2030 according to the study published by Transport & Environment (T&E).

The report, by Dutch consultants CE Delft, also found that lorries are responsible for 20% of road congestion in the EU, despite representing just 3% of road vehicles. (2)

Shocking data on the safety record of lorries has also been revealed. Per kilometre driven, trucks were found to be responsible for twice the number of deaths caused by passenger cars. (3)

The study also debunks the road haulage industry's claim that lorries pay their full costs through existing taxes and charges. It found that existing charges of around EUR 50bn only cover infrastructure costs (4) . So-called 'external costs' such as pollution, congestion, noise and accidents are not covered.

T&E is calling for a change to the law to allow member states to recover these costs through road charges, a policy in line with the 'polluter pays' principle that, in theory, governs EU policymaking . Currently member states are banned from applying such charges in lorry road tolls, though no such ban exists for any other form of transport.

A proposed update to rules on road charging for lorries is currently working its way through the EU legislative process (5), with a vote in the European Parliament's Transport Committee scheduled for 21 January.

If made law, the revised 'Eurovignette' proposal would partly reverse the existing ban. But charges for CO2 emissions and road accidents, controversially, were excluded from the legal proposal by the European Commission. T&E is calling on member states and the European Parliament to reverse that stance and permit member states to include all so-called 'external costs' in lorry road tolls as they see fit.

Jos Dings, director of T&E said: "Truckers are getting a free ride while causing misery for millions; congestion, noise and pollution blight the lives of all Europeans. Governments need to keep every option open when tackling massive problems like congestion so the EU must reverse its absurd ban on including these costs in road tolls for lorries."

Congestion charges for lorries have proved particularly controversial amongst some MEPs on the Transport Committee because they are seen as a small portion of the overall vehicle fleet (around 3% of vehicles). But the report's finding that lorries are responsible for 20% of congestion suggests tackling this relatively small number of vehicles would be a very effective way of tackling the problem.

(1) The report "Are trucks taking their toll?" by consultants CE Delft for T&E is available to download here.

(2) Lorries above 3.5 tonnes account for 3% of road vehicles according to the EU transport policy assessment model TREMOVE.

(3) 6500 accident deaths were caused by lorries in 2006 in the EU.

(4) Infrastructure charges were calculated to be EUR 51 bn, taxes and charges accounted for EUR 54 bn.

(5) See: http://ec.europa.eu/transport/road/road_charging/tolls_user_charges_vehicles__en.htm

Notes to editors

- The existing Eurovignette rules for lorry road tolls only apply to the major roads that form the Trans-European Network. They do not apply in urban areas. See: http://ec.europa.eu/transport/infrastructure/networks_eu/road_en.htm

- The rules do not oblige member states to introduce tolls, they merely set rules for those that do so.

- Fuel efficiency is directly linked to CO2 emissions. The fuel efficiency of the average truck has not improved in 15 years.

- Lorries are responsible for 23% of the CO2 emissions generated by road transport, vans for a further 8%. The report projects these shares will grow significantly in the coming years, particularly because emissions from cars are expected to decrease as a result of new EU fuel efficiency standards agreed in December.

- According to the report, the average lorry in the EU drives half empty. 'Load factors' are also falling in several important markets.

Contact the press team

Nico Muzi
Communications Director
+32 (0)484 27 87 91 
nico.muzi@transportenvironment.org

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