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Published: 2010-04-07 00:00:00

The chairman of the multi-agency Regional Transport Committee is welcoming the final shape of a new regime for heavy vehicles on New Zealand roads due to take effect from next month.

But Cr Norm Barker, from Environment Waikato, said the committee would watch the impact of the new rules closely.

Last year, the committee raised a number of concerns over the plans to allow trucks generally to increase their loads from 44 tonnes to 53 tonnes on specified routes.

The concerns included fear of more wear and tear on Waikato roads and a threat to safety if bigger trucks used roads that were not designed to take them.

However, in comments after yesterday’s committee meeting, Cr Barker said: "The final rules announced by the Minister of Transport last week give local authorities the final say over where trucks can go in their territories. Also, there will be Government funding for local councils to make roading improvements where needed to handle the bigger loads.

"It’s good that the Government has listened to concerns raised by the committee and others, and is to implement an improved scheme for allowing heavier vehicles."

Cr Barker said the committee would keep a close eye on how the new regime actually worked in practice.

"The Waikato’s road toll is way too high and trucks figure far too prominently in our crash statistics.

"The aim of the new rules includes slowing the increase in the number of heavy trucks on our roads. We’ll be watching closely to see if use of the bigger rigs has any impact on crashes and road safety generally, and whether it causes councils any problems with road maintenance."