The Budget confirms that the Government will provide $70 million over four years for its Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Plan.
The Rudd Government announced the plan in February, and said it would fund:
- the construction of more heavy vehicle rest stops along highways and on the outskirts of Australia’s major cities.
- upgrades to key freight routes so trucks can carry heavier loads.
- two trials of using new technology to monitor driving hours and truck speeds, one using digital tachographs and the other using GPS technology.
The Budget allocates $10 million to the plan in 2008-09, followed by $20 million per year in 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12.
The Budget papers make it clear, however, that the Government will only go ahead with the plan if the Senate agrees to the planned increase in the road user charge from 19.633 cents per litre to 21 cents per litre.
The Australian Trucking Association chairman, Trevor Martyn, says the Government’s commitment to build more rest areas was especially important.
“Driver fatigue is a key safety issue, but none of Australia’s major highways has enough rest areas to comply with the national guidelines,” he says.
“The plan will be a great start toward building the extra rest areas we need, although more funding will be required in the years to come.”