An investigation into the potential for reducing road damage by optimising the design of heavy vehicle suspensions is described. In the first part of the paper two simple mathematical models are used to study the optimisation of conventional passive suspensions. Simple modifications are made to the steel spring suspension of a tandem axle trailer and it is found experimentally that RMS dynamic tyre forces can be reduced by 15% and theoretical road damage by 5.2%. A mathematical model of an air-sprung articulated vehicle is validated, and its suspension is optimised according to the simple models. This vehicle generates about 9% less damage than the leaf-sprung vehicle in the unmodified state and it is predicted that, for the operating conditions examined, the road damage caused by this vehicle can be reduced by a further 5.4%. Finally, it is shown experimentally that computer-controlled semi-active dampers have the potential to reduce road damage by a further 5-6%, compared to an air suspension with optimum passive damping.