13. July 2016

Poll: 72 percent of Germans opposed to longer vehicles

Huge rejection of Gigaliners after five years of trials in Germany

Road junction nightmare: even after five years of trials of longer heavy goods vehicles, car drivers still do not want to get used to seeing them. According to a survey by pollsters forsa, 72 percent of Germans are against the so-called Gigaliners.

Berlin, July 13 2016. Nearly three quarters of Germans are opposed to the use of longer HGVs on Germany’s roads. That is the conclusion of a representative survey carried out by the pollsters forsa on behalf of the German Pro-Rail Alliance, the Automobile Club Verkehr ACV and the Association of German Transport Companies VDV. A total of 72 percent of those questioned were against longer HGVs being allowed on Germany’s roads. Only 25 percent were in favour. Opposition was higher among women (81 percent against) than men (62 against longer HGVs). A comparison of the federal states showed that people in North-Rhine Westphalia were even more critical (77 percent against longer HGVs) than the German average.

Should longer HGVs be allowed on Germany’s roads?
Results of a 2016 representative survey by pollsters forsa

Auch nach fünf Jahren Riesen-Lkw-Test wollen sich die Autofahrer nicht an den Anblick gewöhnen. Laut Forsa sind 72 Prozent der Deutschen gegen Gigaliner.

Grey: “don’t know” – Green: “agree” – Red: “oppose”
Source: Pro-Rail Alliance on the basis of forsa data.

 

Germans regard longer HGVs as an accident risk factor

Those questioned said the increased accident risk (47 percent) and increased taxation for upgrading road infrastructure (40 percent) were the main reasons for their negative vote. 45 percent of Germans said an important factor was that freight transport would be shifted from the railways back onto the roads, which would be damaging for the environment. The five year trials of longer HGVs, which was run by the Federal Transport Ministry and is due to end in December 2016, has barely had an impact on public opinion. Shortly before trials began, 77 percent of Germans said they were opposed to mega trucks.

ACV: longer HGVs negatively impact traffic safety

“German car drivers are right to be afraid of longer vehicles. Even now, one in five fatal accidents involves a heavy goods vehicle. The widespread use of longer HGVs on Germany’s roads would have a negative impact on traffic safety,” said the managing director of the ACV, Horst Metzler, during the presentation of the forsa survey on Wednesday in Berlin. The concerns about safety would also explain why the women who were polled were more sceptical. “Women are often more careful drivers and are a voice of reason.” Anyone who values road traffic safety would be well advised to pay attention.

Pro-Rail Alliance: Germans want fewer heavy goods vehicles

“The poll is a wake-up call for the federal transport minister Dobrindt,” said Pro-Rail Alliance managing director Dirk Flege. “In Bavaria too, the minister’s home state, a large majority is opposed to Gigaliners. Bavarians are particularly worried about the road infrastructure,” said Flege, with reference to the forsa survey. “The minister should add this information to his diary: Germans do not want longer heavy goods vehicles on the roads. They don’t want more HGVs, they want less. Dobrindt’s enthusiastic support has failed to convince people.”

Dobrindt and Burkert argue over regular operations

The Pro-Rail Alliance, ACV and VDV have been astonished at the minister’s repeated announcements that longer vehicles would be licensed for regular use without any further conditions once the tests have concluded. In contrast, the organisations reacted positively to a suggestion by Martin Burkert, chairman of the federal parliament’s transport committee. He said that after the test have concluded in December 2016, longer vehicles should be licensed for everyday use only as part of a combined transport system with rail and the inland waterways. Burkert strictly rejected blanket national approval for longer vehicles for safety and environmental reasons.

Licensed only for combined transport: “lesser evil”

“Limiting operations of Gigaliners to a feeder role for rail freight terminals can defuse the road safety risk to car drivers,” said ACV managing director Metzler. The increased strain on road infrastructure, for which taxpayers would be liable if a general license is granted, would also be relieved if approval is coupled with usage as part of the combined transport system.

The main environmental concern that drastically cheaper road freight transport would lead to a modal shift from the railways onto the roads could be alleviated if combined transport is a condition, said the Pro-Rail Alliance managing director. “If the federal government limits the use of longer HGVs to journeys combined with the environmentally friendly and safe railways, it will no longer be undermining its own targets. After all, the government’s coalition agreement states that rail freight transport is to be strengthened,” said Flege.

The VDV warned that the federal government should first make sure that freight trains with a standard length of 740 metres can use the network. The investment costs are moderate, the environmental benefits beyond dispute.

Additional information (German):

Download: Infographic of the results of the survey on longer HGVs

The full forsa survey on longer HGVs

Press release from the chairman of the federal parliament’s transport committee, Martin Burkert