Deaths from crashes involving trucks are responsible for 19% of the road toll in New Zealand. This doesn’t include the near-miss crashes that cause serious injuries either, so there is a very real problem.
It’s estimated trucks will account for 90% of New Zealand’s domestic freight by 2042, so cars better get used to having them on all major highways.
In December 2020, port delays due to Covid19 held up Christmas gifts and merchandise. This forced a large container ship to head to Northport near Whangarei for unloading. This meant an extra 13,000 containers and twice as many truck trips travelled the busy road to Auckland to relieve the Christmas mayhem.
The New Zealand Trucking Associating offers Healthy Truck Driver workshops, focussing on the importance of proper sleep, diet and exercise and its link to mental health. They also visit schools to show kids what a truck driver can and can’t see from the driving cab. They feel kids are more responsive to learning and in turn, will educate parents when out on the roads.
Most road users – cars, motorbikes, cyclist and pedestrians, don’t understand the fundamentals of what it takes to manoeuvre a truck. Responding to traffic conditions, controlling the enormous weight and size, and moving the vehicle – especially at low speeds. Couple these factors with a deadline-driven job and you start to see what truck drivers are up against.
We appreciate no one wants to get stuck behind a truck on their way to the Bay of Islands, but if we want safer roads for all vehicles, understanding and patience are needed.
How can other drivers/cyclists make the road safer?
- Look out for wide turns from trucks, especially if it’s a left-hand turn into a driveway. When the truck starts to make a turn, the driver can no longer see down either side and this is when accidents typically happen. If you can’t see the truck’s mirrors, the truck can’t see you!
- Don’t follow trucks too closely – it takes a lot longer for a Kenworth to slow down (or respond to a situation) than a Fiat.
- Always wait for a passing lane before passing a truck on the open road.
- If you’re a cyclist – wear clothes you will be seen in!
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