Damage to commercial vehicles from poorly maintained local roads represents a significant cost to business and, eventually, hits the consumer in the pocket too. The Freight Transport Association (FTA) supports recommendations by the Audit Commission that local authorities need to adopt greater transparency to promote more proportionate spending on the repair and maintenance of roads.
The leading transport trade body estimates that tyres and maintenance account for over 10 per cent of the costs of running a typical large truck. Malcolm Bingham, FTA's Head of Road Network Management Policy, said:
"Commercial vehicle operators contribute massively to the economy via taxes, is it too much to ask that our roads are fit-for-purpose? After all, the not inconsiderable cost of damage caused to trucks and vans by poorly maintained roads cannot be reclaimed from the local authorities. The resulting inflation, as additional transport costs get passed to the customer, is certainly not good for UK PLC.
"The Audit Commission has identified that local highways authorities maintain 98% of the country's roads, yet the level of spending on improving road conditions differs widely between them and seems to bear no resemblance to road condition or size of network. This has to change and we support the Commissions' calls for greater transparency across local authorities both in benchmarking costs and whole-life maintenance plans."
Poor road quality also has a considerable impact on road safety. While recognising that our roads are getting safer, the Road Safety Foundation identified that road collisions account for up to 2.3 per cent of the UK's Gross National Product.
"Aside from the obvious imperative to improve the safety of all road users, with potential savings of £35bn to be found there is also a strong business case for improving safety levels on our A-roads. But the challenge doesn't stop at better road design and could be undermined by inadequate maintenance."