Foreign trucks face winter ban

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Drivers of foreign-registered trucks may soon be banned from using highways over the mountains during the winter months in Norway. Authorities have lost patience with poorly equipped vehicles and inexperienced drivers who lose control on slick winter roads, blocking them or causing accidents.

State officials have lost patience with foreign-registered trucks that can't handle slick highways in the winter. Trucks lacking adequate tires and axles may be banned from using highways over the mountains. PHOTO: Samferdselsdepartementet

State officials have lost patience with foreign-registered heavy vehicles that can’t handle slick highways in the winter. Vehicles lacking adequate tires and axles may be banned from using highways over the mountains. PHOTO: Samferdselsdepartementet

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reports that Norway’s transport ministry is studying a proposal to forbid foreign trucks from driving on specific roads if they fail to have an adequate amount of winter tires on the vehicles. Many trucks registered outside Norway and Sweden are two-axled and have far fewer tires than Scandinavian trucks built to handle winter conditions.

“The foreign trucks have problems on winter roads,” Åge Kristiansen of the Taraldrud vehicle inspection station on the main E6 highway south of Oslo told NRK. “They don’t get enough pressure on the axle to accelerate if they’ve had to stop because of traffic or other problems. Chains don’t always help.”

Many foreign-registered trucks stopped at highway checkpoints also lack winter tires. They’re simply poorly shod, according to inspectors who contend they can thus be dangerous on winter roads, especially over the mountains.

Bård Hoksrud, state secretary in the transport ministry from the Progress Party, said that preventing foreign trucks from using mountain highways “would be a drastic measure, but letting them drive can also have serious consequences.”

Police are glad the government is considering a ban, which they would enforce at highway checkpoints. “We’ve been discussing this for years,” Knut Danielsen of the state highway patrol in Nordland County. “If the government finally acts on this, we’ll really welcome it.”

Officials at the national business and employers’ organization NHO, however, are skeptical and fear it will hinder free competition. NHO also worries that Norway’s own trucking industry lacks enough capacity to make up for banned foreign trucks. That can boost transport rates and, eventually, consumer prices for trucked goods.

The state officials are more concerned about traffic safety. “It would be a very good traffic safety measure to ban these big foreign trucks from various roads at certain times of the year,” Danielsen told NRK.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund