Sunday September 17, 2000
TRUCKERS WANT ACCOUNTIBILITY FOR OWN SAFETY RECORD
The Trucking Industry is actively promoting major improvements in its own safety performance and believes that placing a
much greater level of accountability for crashes on the management of transport companies would be a major step in
achieving its goal. This would allow for habitual offenders to be targeted and expelled from the industry.
As an important step towards improving truck safety, Road Transport Forum NZ (the Forum) was authorised at its annual
Conference last year to commission detailed research into the causes of crashes involving trucks and develop an
integrated package of recommendations to heavily reduce their incidence.
Forum chief executive Tony Friedlander said the research had now been completed by Transport Engineering Research New
Zealand Ltd (TERNZ), and the Forum had developed a package of policy initiatives to address the issues identified. These
have now been presented to Transport Minister Mark Gosche.
Mr Friedlander said the research highlighted the need for far greater management accountability in truck at fault
crashes. “ While drivers must take responsibility for their own actions, it’s the management of the business that
controls driver selection, driver training, safety culture, driving schedules as well as vehicle selection and
maintenance. If these policies are not adequate, the likelihood of drivers making errors is far higher.”
Mr Friedlander said the importance of company attitudes towards safety management was highlighted by a United States
study. “It showed that companies that failed to investigate crashes and took no remedial action had crash rates nine
times higher than those who followed them up.”
To counter these problems, the Forum wants to see the Land Transport Safety Authority (LTSA) take immediate steps to
introduce a comprehensive Operator Licensing/Safety Rating System (OSRS) in consultation with the Forum. “ This would
segment operators according to their safety and compliance record. It would lower compliance costs for the best
performing businesses, such as requiring less frequent vehicle inspections, and allow for more effective targeting of
habitual offenders, leading to their rehabilitation or expulsion from the industry.”
Mr Friedlander said habitual offenders were a small minority of the industry, but were responsible for the majority of
truck at fault crashes.
“There must be a system put in place to weed them out to make New Zealand roads safer for their industry counterparts
and private motorists.”
The TERNZ research also showed the need for major changes outside the control of the trucking industry. It confirmed
that about two thirds of fatal crashes involving trucks were the fault of the other road user.
Mr Friedlander said that while the trucking industry was committed to improving its own safety performance, measures
must also be taken to drastically improve the record of private motorists sharing the roads with trucks. “Over half of
the crashes caused by them involved overtaking, head-on and loss of control impacts by cars. We want to see the LTSA
give priority to identifying the causes of overtaking related crashes and introduce effective remedial measures. We also
want to see a section in the Road Code alerting motorists to the care they must exercise when sharing the road with
The research reinforced the Forum’s view that improvements in the roading system were required to significantly reduce
the incidence of these and other crashes. “In the United States, crash rate reductions of up to 75 percent have been
achieved where highways have been divided.”
Mr Friedlander said with 75 percent of all crashes involving trucks being head-ons, priority had to be given to
developing multi-lane divided highways to replace all high traffic volume two-way roads. “Overtaking opportunities and
passing bays must also be improved as private motorists often undertake risky overtaking maneuvers to get past trucks
travelling at lower speeds.”
Standardising the open road speed limit at 90km/h for all heavy vehicles, apart from those identified as having
stability limitations, would also help alleviate this problem. It would lead to a more consistent traffic flow and
reduce the desire of private motorists to attempt risky passing maneuvers.
“Although the incidence of crashes involving trucks has been reducing over the last five years, the industry
acknowledges that the public is justified in expecting continual and consistent improvements in truck safety. The
industry wants to become an active partner in the delivery of improved truck safety. It believes that if these
recommendations are acted on, they will play a major part in helping the industry achieve its target of a 50 percent
reduction in truck at fault crashes by 2010,” said Mr Friedlander.
Details: Tony Friedlander Ph: 025 483 163