Trucks targeted in safety clampdown

Steve Larking.
Steve Larking.
Southern police are clamping down on truckies in the hope of curbing crash numbers.

As part of a nationwide operation, Southern police will focus on heavy motor vehicle users next month, acting Southern district road policing manager Senior Sergeant Steve Larking says.

Truck drivers would be breath-tested, ticketed for travelling more than 5kmh over the speed limit and logbook checks and load compliance would be carried out, he said.

''Unfortunately, in this industry, there have been some real tragedies occur and sometimes it's been because truck drivers haven't been exhibiting safe driving behaviours,'' Snr Sgt Larking said.

There were 174 crashes on average annually involving trucks in the Southern district from 2011-13.

Of the 159 crashes involving trucks in the district last year, three were fatal and 13 caused serious injury, he said.

Although the crashes were not necessarily caused by truck drivers, ''evidence tells us that the main causes of heavy vehicle crashes are poor observation, poor handling, speed, fatigue due to excessive working hours and driver distraction'', he said.

Road policing staff would work with specialist commercial vehicle investigation unit staff as part of the operation.

''Many of our local truck drivers are safe drivers who operate professionally within the law and ... many of our trucking companies are very mindful of the health and safety standards within which they need to operate,'' Snr Sgt Larking said.

''However, unfortunately, we also know that there are a small number of truck drivers who don't obey the road rules and this creates a safety risk for all road users.''

An Otago-based truck driver died after his truck rolled on a straight section of State Highway 1 near Kaikoura in 2011.

Coronial findings released earlier this year indicated that he was more than likely to have been affected by fatigue, after working at least 17 hours without appropriate breaks.

He was not wearing a seat belt and had a high blood-alcohol level, which would have impacted on his reaction times and judgement, Snr Sgt Larking said.

''If, through this road safety operation, we can have an influence on the behaviour of some of our truckies and encourage them to pay greater attention to their driving behaviour, then the roads will be safer for all of us to use.''

 

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