Drop in HGV traffic highlights need for urgent action Thu May 07 14:29:00 BST 2009

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.”

Notes for editors

1. The latest provisional figures show a decrease of 3.5 per cent in overall traffic levels between the first quarters of 2008 and 2009. Around 1 percentage point of this fall is attributable to the heavy snowfall, mainly during the first week of February.

The bulletin includes provisional traffic estimates broken down by vehicle type and road class.

Key results include:

Between the first quarters of 2008 and 2009:

• Car traffic decreased by 3 per cent.
• Light van traffic decreased by 2 per cent.
• Heavy goods vehicle traffic decreased by 12 per cent.
• Traffic on motorways decreased by 5 per cent.
• Traffic on rural ‘A’ roads decreased by 4 per cent.
• Traffic on urban ‘A’ roads decreased by 2 per cent.
• Traffic on minor rural roads decreased by 3 per cent.
• Traffic on minor urban roads decreased by 3 per cent.


2. According to Office of National Statistics figures, claims for Jobseekers’ Allowance have risen markedly within the logistics sector from March 2008 to March 2009:

HGV drivers up by 365 per cent
Transport managers up by 190 per cent
Van drivers up by 89 per cent

3. Fuel duty increased on 1 December 2008 by two pence per litre (ppl) and by a further 1.84ppl on 1 April 2009. Cumulatively, these increases have placed an additional £533 million burden on logistics businesses. The further two pence per litre rise planned for September 2009 will increase this burden to £810m.

4. FTA carried out its Quarterly Transport Activity Survey earlier this month. Of those members who responded, 48 per cent said that they had made redundancies in the last quarter, while a further 30 per cent said they are considering redundancies in the second quarter of 2009. Nearly 40 per cent have cut back on using agency drivers.

5. FTA’s has launched its Every Penny Counts campaign, urging the Government to rethink its plans to increase both fuel duty and the fees levied by the Department for Transport’s executive agencies. Despite widespread support from within Parliament, including the Government’s own backbenches, these calls were ignored.

6. The Freight Transport Association represents the transport interests of companies moving goods by road, rail, sea and air. FTA members operate over 220,000 goods vehicles – almost half the UK fleet. In addition they consign over 90 per cent of the freight moved by rail and over 70 per cent of sea and air freight.


FTA Press Office

01892 552255