AAA Welcomes Increase in Truck Road User Charge
Australia’s peak motoring body, the Australian Automobile Association, has welcomed an increase in the fuel road user charge (RUC) for truck drivers which passed through Parliament last night.
The increase sees the heavy vehicle RUC increase by 1.367 cents to 21 cents per litre, with the Federal Government announcing that, in exchange for this, additional funds will be used to build more rest stops for truck drivers.
AAA Director Research & Policy, John Metcalfe, said that the increase should not be seen as an increase in tax on the industry but an attempt to recover the costs of road construction and maintenance which have been increasing from year to year.
“An increase in the RUC to 21cpl is consistent with the Productivity Commission's recommendations to increase the charge so that trucks 'pay their way'. And the increase is modest as, even at this level, the charge helps to recover only average road costs over the past seven years.
“Trucks are only paying around half of what private motorists pay for their fuel, despite the fact that trucks cause much greater pavement wear.
“Motorists currently pay 38cpl in fuel tax - but if the National Transport Commission's charging methodology were applied to cars, which it is not at present, then the RUC for cars would be around 11cpl.
“Although trucks may now be paying their way, clearly cars are overcharged for use of the road network compared to trucks.”
AAA would really like to see the current road user charge - which is currently non-hypothecated - abolished and replaced with a genuine charge to cover the costs of pavement wear (road damage), climate change and congestion, provided that charges for congestion were levied only at times and places where congestion exists.
Mr Metcalfe said AAA has made its views known on this topic in its recent submission to the Henry Tax Review (see www.aaa.asn.au to download).
Mr Metcalfe also welcomed the fact that, along with the increase in the RUC, there would be an increase in funding for more rest stops for truck drivers.
“Investment in rest stops is highly desirable, as fatigue is proven to be a factor in road crashes. Australia is lagging in its efforts to reduce the road fatality rate in line with the National Road Safety Strategy, and AAA is always prepared to work with the peak body that represents the trucking industry, the Australian Trucking Association, to support road safety initiatives.”