Drop in HGV traffic highlights need for urgent action

Leading trade body, the Freight Transport Association (FTA), has urged the Government to look at its own figures - showing that heavy goods vehicle (HGV) traffic dropped significantly in the last year - and scrap the fuel duty hike it has planned for September.

Figures published today by the Department for Transport show that HGV traffic decreased by 12 per cent between the first quarters of 2008 and 2009. This coupled with the marked increase in HGV drivers seeking Job Seekers Allowance - up by 365 per cent from March 2008 to March 2009 - is of grave concern to an industry already reeling from two consecutive fuel duty increases since December.

Jo Tanner, Head of Communications for the FTA, said:

"These figures are further proof that the haulage sector has been hit especially hard by the recession. What more proof does the Government need that certain parts of our sector are on its knees?

"Given the drop-off in work from the retail and manufacturing sectors and the increased costs of running an HGV, it is not surprising that traffic volumes have fallen as far as they have. But trucks are the lifeblood of our economy and now would be a good time to stop kicking the industry while it is down with discretionary fuel duty rises."

While HGV volumes fell by 12 per cent, overall traffic decreased by 3.5 per cent in the same period.

Tanner concluded:

"With commercial vehicles faring much worse than cars, the Government must introduce different rates of duty for business users and private motorists. Aside from the commercial implications of taxing business users at the same rate as other road users, the fact is that private cars add far more to the UK's CO2 emissions than commercial vehicles."