Children-in-cab ban hits drivers

Banning children from ''riding shotgun'' in their parents' trucks has resulted in fewer young drivers entering the industry, National Road Carriers executive officer Grant Turner said.

The trucking industry had an ageing workforce and the shortage of drivers would worsen when the Government removed truck drivers from a skilled-worker shortage list later this month, he said.

Health and safety regulations were the reason for children being banned from the cabs of trucks.

''Twenty years ago, when I was driving trucks, it was no problem taking your kid or your girlfriend for a ride in the cab with you, but that has certainly changed now.''

Enforcement was so strict, he had heard of truck companies removing the passenger seats from trucks.

The ban on children was a response to the wishes of industrial sites, he said.

''They say no kids in the cab because there is machinery working and you can't be supervising the loading of your truck and supervising the child in your cab at the same time.''

Dynes Transport owner Malcolm Payne, of Dunedin, said the company's policy did not allow children in the cabs with any of its drivers.

Mr Turner said the ban was disappointing because the best truck drivers were those who had been in a truck as a child.

''It's like the agricultural sector. The best farmers are the kids that have grown up on farms ... many of our best [drivers] spent their formative years sitting in the passenger seat, observing and learning.''

Many trucking businesses were built on family legacies.

''We need people to want to be part of what we do and a great start is riding shotgun in your father's truck.''

Truck driving was on Immigration New Zealand's immediate skill shortage list (ISSL) but was about to be removed. Mr Turner said the industry relied on immigrant drivers and needed to stay on the list to encourage experienced overseas truck drivers to come to New Zealand and work.

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse said the truck drivers had been on the ISSL for many years and the industry had time to respond to the skill shortage through recruitment, retention and training of New Zealand workers and job-seekers.

''The Government recognised that to remove the occupation from the list immediately could have caused some adverse impacts on the industry. As a result, the industry was given a year's notice of the change and it will not take effect until March 24.''

The list was not the only option for migrant truck drivers to work in New Zealand.

''If the trucking industry can still not find drivers once they come off the list, they will still be able to bring in migrant drivers on work visas, so long as they've looked and cannot find suitable New Zealanders available to take those jobs,'' Mr Woodhouse said.


Add a Comment