The road safety truck is part of the alternative route truck crashes/rollover prevention plan developed by the South Island’s truck crashes/rollover prevention team. The team consists of the New Zealand Transport Agency, Road Transport Forum, NZ Trucking Association, Road Transport Association of NZ, Heavy Haulage, National Road Carriers, NZ Police, Commercial Vehicle Investigation Unit, NZTA contractors and consultants, and the North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery alliance.
The goal is to progressively reduce the incidence and severity of single heavy vehicle rollover crashes on the alternative Picton to Christchurch route, which would reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries as well as closures and delays for all road users.
The fully customised road safety truck and ‘classroom’ trailer will be used for a programme of visits with education programmes delivered by the NZ Trucking Association.
Early last year the association took the initiative and developed the Share the Road with Big Trucks programme aimed at raising road safety awareness around trucks. The association also participated in several workshops with the NZTA education team, and assisted in the development of the new truck road safety resources for the school curriculum.
NZ Trucking Association CEO Dave Boyce said while delivering the Share the Road programme, it became apparent that the health of the industry’s truck drivers was having an effect on road safety outcomes, and developed a Healthy Truck Driver programme designed to help drivers identify the symptoms and causes of common driver health issues such as fatigue.
The road safety truck is backed up with a website www.roadsafetytruck.co.nz that not only explains the programme, but is also loaded with all the programme resources, and provides links to other useful health resources. The website has a calendar of upcoming events, giving anyone the ability to request the Safety MAN road safety truck, subject to scheduling and funding.
For the first six months, the Safety MAN road safety truck is contracted to focus on the inland state highway between Christchurch and Picton and deliver the programmes to transport operators and communities who use this route. After that, other regions will be targeted.
The alternative route has become the main highway since the November 2016 earthquake closed State Highway 1 through Kaikoura. Between then and the end of March 2017 there have been 38 truck crashes on this route, including 10 rollovers and five crashes, causing serious injuries and/or deaths.
Winding, challenging and narrow in parts, it includes an alpine pass, the Lewis Pass, and one-way bridges. This has put truck operators and drivers under additional stress, particularly with the additional delays from multiple work sites as part of the NZTA’s ongoing improvement programme.
“The longer driving hours on this route cause fatigue for drivers – a key factor in crashes and rollovers,” says NCTIR journey manager Tresca Forrester.
“With up to four times more traffic on these highways than pre-earthquake, many communities along the way have become concerned about sharing the road with heavy vehicles and how that affects the way they and their families live and use this route.”
Adam Wright, dealer principal with Heavy Trucks Ltd, which has provided the truck for the safety project, is enthusiastic about its role.
“This is a huge investment for a small company but it is actually going to do some good. There are a lot of (safety) features on this truck, but they won’t help you if another road user is not leaving a safe following distance or if the driver is tired or fatigued.”
Photo: Left to right, cutting the ribbon at the launch: Jim Harland and Jenny Dickinson of the NZ Transport Agency, NZ Trucking Association CEO David Boyce, NCTIR journey manager for the alternative route Tresca Forrester, and Adam Wright of Heavy Trucks Ltd.