This morning (Thursday, January 25) the NZ Herald released an article on truck drivers who are leaving (or considering leaving) the job for fear of having an accident, through no fault of their own.
We who are in the industry are constantly seeing accident reports in the media. Just last Sunday a car crossed the centre line of Ash Pit Rd near Rotorua and had a head-on collision with a truck. This is something we are seeing constantly.
Ask any truck driver and they will tell you how many near misses they see and detail the incredibly risky behaviour undertaken by motorists on our roads.
We have said again and again in Road Torque that this isn’t a truck problem, it’s a problem with the actions of other motorists.
The risky behaviour of motorists could stem from either a lack of knowledge of how to drive safely around trucks or it could simply be due to impatience.
More needs to be done by the NZTA and the government to inform the public of how to drive safely around trucks. Some have taken a proactive approach from within the industry, with the introduction of the ‘Safety MAN’ truck but this simply isn’t enough. It should not be up to transport and logistics companies or groups to solve this problem.
This is not to say all motorists on the road take such risks. Some are more than happy to cruise along behind a truck until the next safe passing lane or until it pulls over. Being behind a truck provides safe passage and acts as a windbreak, saving you fuel. However, some are just desperate to get passed for no real reason other than that they need to get past the truck.
Part of the problem is the way that trucks are discussed in public forums. Politicians talk of trucks as if they are lumbering driverless automatons of death and the media shows us endless rollovers and crashes. People forget that there is someone inside the truck. We need a serious revamp of the way we discuss trucks in this country and the way that the public receives information about safety around trucks.
Drivers who witness or are involved in these hideous crashes don’t just go home and wake up the next day like nothing happened, the poor men and woman get up and are scarred mentally from the experience some will never get behind the wheel again. This problem affects not only the road transport industry but New Zealand as a whole.