Friday, August 10, 2007

Lorry tax

There was a major accident on the London orbital motorway today. Two huge lorries were involved. The entire clockwise section around junction six was closed off for ten hours. Luckily I escaped today, I drive home anticlockwise. But this type of incident is not uncommon. A few weeks ago there was a major shed load on my stretch.

The lorry drivers often complain about road and petrol taxes. Firstly, a point I have seen in print before, why shouldn't a forty ton trailer pay forty times as much as a one ton car, it causes forty times as much damage to the road.

The second point, I haven't yet seen in print. Not every lorry driver has accidents. But when one does, the disruption caused is orders of magnitude greater than the disruption caused by the typical car accident. Either we charge the unfortunate. Or we make the lorries pay more to compensate.


Faisal said...

I doubt a 40-times heavier lorry causes 40 times as much damage as a car. Maybe twice as much, maybe no more, depending on what the road is built to withstand.

You are making a case for charging by the kilo--which ignores the variation in car weights (actually pressure put on the road is more accurate, so we should calculate weight divided by contact patch of each tyre patch times number of tyres), the lack of correlation between weight and damage to roads, and a host of other factors.

We already charge more for the increased damage caused by bigger legal costs incurred by those held responsible. Unfortunately, it's not an exact science.

Rana said...

Your arguments around extra taxes because of road damage are fair points, I've seen them before and as you say the proportions are not exact.

What isn't discussed generally is the second point. So far as I know, here lorry drivers do not pay legal costs for the disruption and chaos caused by major motorways being closed off for hours or days - instead we all bear that cost.

Faisal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Faisal said...

Owner/operators pay via large insurance policies and corresponding large payouts--assuming they are insured, of course.

You are right in terms of opportunity costs and inconvenience incurred--but how do we put a price on that? Wouldn't everyone claim that the accident/highway shutdown cost them the meeting where they were going to reveal the idea or get the opportunity that would make them multimillionaires? What about true millionaires? Should David Beckham or some Russian billionaire get compensated more for being held up in a traffic jam? Your tax pound paid for the motorway just as much as theirs did, probably more considering they park their wealth in offshore tax havens. Yet these people presumably use the motorways more, causing more wear and tear, while bearing little of the costs.

I guess the economies of scale will always favour the rich. So, to incur less of the inconvenience of the traffic jams, rise above it in your helicopter. :)

Ann Cardus said...

One issue with your second point is that it is you and I that would bear this cost burden. The end consumer would pay. So I would pay to be inconvenienced. Hmmm.

Rana said...

Are you referring to my second point? If so, then you've got it upside down.

My point was that at the moment we do all pay for the massive disruptions, whereas I think only the lorry drivers should pay more. Either just the unfortunate ones. Or all of them, with lorry tax reflecting the greater cost of clearing lorry accidents.

Ann Cardus said...

Lorry drivers paying more, even if the unfortunate ones, means we pay more.

Lorry insurance premiums will rise and these will be passed on to the consumer.

It's lose lose. Either way you look at it the consumer pays more.

I'm not as inverted as you thought.

Rana said...

We continue to disagree. Full answer later.