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The Irish minister for transport, travel and sport recently announced plans for a proposed toll holiday for HGV drivers using a number of prominent motorways in that country. Leo Varadkar made the announcement on October 1 (2013) while responding to parliamentary questions. If the government follows through, HGVs will not have to pay tolls on select roadways during November.

The motorways include the M1, M3, M6, and the Limerick Tunnel. The idea is to see whether commercial vehicles would be encouraged to use the motorways in the absence of tolls. Many believe motorway traffic is unnecessarily low because both independent and company drivers do not want to pay to use the roads.

According to Materials Handling World magazine, the month-long toll holiday is just a trial. Irish officials want to see the results of the holiday before deciding how to proceed in the future. To help convince the government to make the toll holiday permanent, the Freight Transport Association of Ireland (FTAI) is encouraging drivers to use the motorways as much as possible during November.

Though the government stands to lose quite a bit of revenue should they reduce or dismiss HGV tolls on some motorways, they would save on the other end by not having to spend additional money maintaining roads damaged by HGV traffic. Furthermore, supporters of the move say it would boost the Irish economy, which would in turn increase tax revenues.

Let’s Try It Here

UK supporters of the toll holiday suggest we should try the same thing here in the UK, based on the common knowledge that tolls represent an impediment to traffic. For example, independent drivers certainly do not want to reduce their profits by having to pay to use certain roads. If there are other routes that are equally efficient, those will be chosen first.

As for company drivers, someone still has to pay for their tolls. Their employers do not want any additional costs, so they encourage drivers to use alternate routes when they’re economically feasible. Granting a toll holiday in the UK would likely yield the same positive results we are expecting to see in Ireland.

It should be noted that the haulage industry plays a vital role in Europe’s economy as a whole. No other mode of transport is responsible for carrying as much cargo across the continent as the haulage industry. Without HGVs criss-crossing Europe, the economic landscape would be very different.

It would seem as though government officials would recognise this reality and remove as many barriers as possible, including the excessive tolls charged for many roadways. The responsibility of tolls seems to be spread disproportionally over the haulage industry to the detriment of the entire economy.

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