Police Checks of Heavy Vehicles Decline

Police spot checks of commercial vehicles have dropped significantly over the past three years, despite growth in the road transport industry. 

In this three year period the total number of commercial vehicle registrations rose by almost 6000 with heavy transport vehicles making up a big chunk of this figure. 

This information was discovered after Official Information Act request was filed by stuff.co.nz, who were investigating a series of bus crashes. 

The data shows Police did 52,474 commercial vehicle inspections for the 12 months to June 2016, just under 48,000 the following year, and 39,289 last financial year. 

Mike McRandle, acting manager of the police commercial vehicle safety team, ​ says the drop in inspections was due in part to lack of staff, but suggested that had been remedied. 

The team, McRandle says, also changed its approach to enforcement with a stronger focus on prevention strategies and ensuring checks were done well.  

"If we notice during inspections there seem to be recurring issues with the same company, we'll go and meet with them and talk about the issues and what they can do resolve them and prevent any other issues with their fleet,” he says. 

McRandle said this worked well and feedback from transport operators was positive. 

He pointed out there had been a 14 per cent increase in funding for dedicated road policing, and says that the raw data may be misleading. 

"Even at the low point in 2017, Police were carrying out more than 100 commercial vehicle inspections a day. Targeted enforcement and prevention is also a valid approach." 

Road Transport Association chief executive Dennis Robertson expresses surprise at the pull back because the amount of freight carried by road was growing at such a rapid rate in an already large industry. 

"From our point of view, we want a level playing field and inspections are good because they keep everyone honest," he says. 

The ‘Weigh Right’ programme to identify overloaded vehicles, could make the process of inspection and enforcement of weight restrictions easier and fairer.   

Sensors in the road will weigh and record the speed of vehicles as they pass and illuminated signs will direct those deemed overloaded into a roadside weigh station. 

Robertson said the system would help change the behaviour of operators who deliberately overloaded their vehicles, giving them an advantage over those who stuck to the rules. 

A dozen weigh stations spread throughout the country are due for completion by 2020.

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