Heavier trucks will bring real productivity gains

  • Steven Joyce

A new permit system allowing heavy vehicles to operate outside the current mass and dimension limits will deliver real gains for both the economy and the travelling public, says Transport Minister Steven Joyce.

The Land Transport Rule: Vehicle Dimensions and Mass Amendment 2010 allows the development of a permit regime 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.

New Zealand's freight task is forecast to increase by 70 to 75 percent over the next 25 years and 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 roads," says Mr Joyce.

"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."

Trucks carrying heavier loads will not be any wider or higher than present vehicles, though a limited number may be slightly longer.  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.

Any vehicle issued with a permit to operate at a heavier weight under a permit system will have to meet all appropriate safety requirements.

The full Rule Amendment and questions and answers are available on the Ministry of Transport website at www.transport.govt.nz and on the NZ Transport Agency website at www.nzta.govt.nz


Vehicle Dimensions and Mass Rule - Key Facts

The Land Transport Rule: Vehicle Dimensions and Mass 2002 specifies requirements for dimension and mass limits for vehicles operating on New Zealand roads. The rule sets in place a regulatory regime so that vehicles, in particular, heavy truck and trailer combinations, are operated safely.

The Land Transport Rule: Vehicle Dimensions and Mass Amendment 2010 allows for:

  • A permit regime for road controlling authorities to issue permits for high productivity vehicles to operate above 44 tonnes on specified routes.
  • For longer high productivity vehicles there will be an additional approval required from the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA). This will allow road controlling authorities to issue permits for vehicles that exceed 20 metres in length. Any vehicle over 53 tonnes will fall into this category
  • Some increases in vehicle lengths to allow certain vehicles to operate without the need to obtain a permit (for example logging trucks that currently operate at 22 metres overall length, car transporters, truck and simple trailers)
  • Conditions to be placed on permits to meet safety, compliance and operating requirements.
  • All permits to be subject to approval by relevant local road controlling authorities for local roads and the NZTA for State highways.
  • Increase in bus length from 12.6 to 13.5 metres
  • Provision for bike racks to be fitted to the front of buses but not be included in overall length
  • A provision relaxing the travel time restrictions for agricultural machinery.