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HGV’s – Do They Pay Their Way?

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We’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve heard people complaining about the state of the roads in the UK. And we can’t exactly blame them – as people who drive on them for prolonged periods every day, we know exactly what you mean. But our problem comes with what people are claiming is the source of the problem – the HGV’s themselves. And we’re here today to tell you that’s not true. 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.

What HGV’s Pay

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 that came from this report is that the total tax claimed from HGV’s on the road is almost completely equal to the amount spent by local and central councils on maintaining the roads. 94% of it in fact. That can be taken in a lot of different ways. 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.

The Damage They Do

So now we come to the real question – does the amount of tax they pay cover the damage they cause to the roads? Because yes, HGV’s are heavy vehicles, which means that they are going to put more pressure on the road’s foundations and cause long-term damage. People have also argued that HGV’s are to blame for potholes, but since larger lorries have more axels to split the weight of their payloads evenly, this is still the subject of much debate.

But we have some figures to challenge that. According to the study, the estimated cost for infrastructure damage caused to the roads by HGV’s totalled £1.5 billion. That’s £3 billion less than they paid in road taxes over the same period. They got to that number in a really simple way. Damaged was estimated to be 9 pence per mile, and calculating mileage over the year, the cost works out to £1.5 billion. This brings up a very important question – if the taxes paid by HGV’s can almost completely cover what the government is paying to maintain them – where is the money from the other 91% of road users going? If anything, the onus should be on the local and national governments to increase spending on maintenance infrastructure.

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 it is HGV’s that 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.

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