Think back – when was the last time you caught yourself complaining about the state of the roads in the UK? Whether it’s the flaking of tarmac on the motorway or that giant pothole on your road that’s racked your windscreen – most of us can think of a dozen places where the roads are pretty bad. And we have no problem with that – really! We understand the frustration. But what we do have a problem with is people blaming HGV’s for the problematic roads. Because while they do cause some damage, they aren’t the reason for the problem. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. According to new research by the Freight Transport Association, the tax paid by HGV’s alone is almost exactly equal to the amount spend keeping Britain’s roads in working order – regardless of what you think of their current state.
Over the last few years, there has been a fair amount of research done into the impact of HGV’s on a lot of things – from our environment and our air to this one about our roads. It’s called ‘HGV’s: Do they pay their way? Impacts on road surfaces’ – which you can download and read here if you like. And if you don’t, don’t worry – we’ll summarise it for you.
The big headline statistic to come from the report is that the tax from HGV’s alone is equivalent to 94% of the total amount spent on road maintenance across the UK. If you want real money on that – £4.7 billion is spent each year on maintaining roads (as stated in the 2015-16 report), while the total tax paid by HGV’s came to £4.4 billion. What’s even more surprising is that, despite being blamed for a lot of the problems, HGV’s pay much more tax than any other type of vehicle on the road, by volume. Taking the next largest vehicle on the road, LGV’s they made up 3.78% of the total road traffic volume (compared to HGV’s, which made up 27.2%). Yet their total VED and Road User Levy only came to £2,109 million, whereas the total for HGV’s doubled it at £4,422. In fact, when it was all added up, HGV’s paid 14% of all UK road taxes in 2015-16, but they only made up 9% of the traffic on the roads.
So now we come to the real question – does the amount of tax they pay cover the damage they cause to the roads? Because despite being driven safely and securely, there is no denying that they are big, heavy vehicles. Over the long term, that weight is bound to cause some damage to the roads, to the foundations and the infrastructure supporting them (though this is somewhat mitigated by the fact that they have multiple axels to spread the load and minimise the damage). The marginal cost estimate for infrastructure damage caused by HGV’s over the measured time period was £1.5 billion, which comes in a whole £3 billion less than the taxes they paid to maintain the roads.
So the final point of the report brought things back around to our main question – government spending. Because yes, the UK’s roads aren’t in great shape. But HGV’s aren’t to blame and they more than pay their dues for the damage they do cause. The real issue is that councils and government aren’t investing enough into road maintenance and that if the costs of road maintenance can almost be covered by HGV’s taxes alone – then where is the tax from the 91% of other road users going?
So, the next time you hear someone loudly declare that HGV’s are ruining Britain’s roads – you can tell them with absolute confidence that it’s not true, and HGV maintain and pay for our roads instead. For more information on HGV’s on UK roads, or to start your journey to becoming an HGV driver, just get in touch with us today.