One month toll-free exemption “just too short” says MEP Higgins
In spesking with Fleet Transport at the ACEA Transport Futures event in Brussels, Jim Higgins, MEP for Midlands-North-West has called on the Minister for Transport to extend the scheme he introduced in the month of November which provided a “toll-free” holiday for hauliers.
Mr. Higgins, a member of the European Parliament Transport committee, said; “I wholeheartedly welcomed the pilot project by Leo Varadkar to provide a “toll-holiday” for HGVs on Ireland’s motorway network during November. The difficulty is that one month is simply too short in order to judge the effects of such an initiative. Hauliers have built up habits and routes over many years. When the new motorway network was built, many haulage companies chose to continue to use the old roads, to try to save money.”
“This has meant that while many towns and villages have seen a reduction in the numbers of cars coming through their areas, the number of HGVs, which are the most dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists, has remained relatively stable. I understand that the Department of Transport will issue a report on the trial in the coming weeks, but what I am saying is that a one month period is too short. It needs to be extended for the first 6 months of 2014 in order to judge the real effects of such a policy.”
Allowing HGVs use motorways for free is expected to cost about €20-30 million annually, however Jim Higgins stressed how important it was for Irish exports that the haulage industry remain as competitiveness as possible. “If you have an efficient haulage system, you ensure that Irish products remain competitively priced. This is critical in terms of our economic recovery, so the initial cost would be well compensated for. In addition, by encouraging HGVs to use the motorway network, instead of the old national road network means that road safety is increased. In a year where road deaths look set to rise by 10 or 15 per cent, this is all the more important.”

Jim Higgins MEP pictured with Sorcha O’Grady, Truck Science and Jarlath Sweeney, Fleet Transport at the ACEA Transport event in Brussels this week.

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