The NZ Transport Agency and the North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery (NCTIR) alliance is supporting the launch of the Safety MAN road safety truck – an on-the-road way to help reduce truck crashes and rollovers on the alternate Picton to Christchurch route.
The route has become the main highway since the November 2016 Kaikōura earthquake closed State Highway 1 through Kaikōura.
Since the earthquake to the end of March 2017, there have been 38 truck crashes on the Alternate Route, including ten rollovers and five crashes causing serious injuries and/or deaths.
The alternate route is 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 Transport Agency’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.”
The fully customised truck and ‘classroom’ trailer will be used for a programme of visits where education programmes will be delivered by the NZ Trucking Association.
Adam Wright, Dealer Principal with Heavy Trucks Ltd, which has provided the truck for the safety project was 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.”
The ‘Healthy Truck Driver Programme’ is targeted at key operators and companies that travel the alternate route. It is designed to identify the symptoms and causes of common truck driver health issues (which therefore could cause crashes), such as fatigue.
The ‘Share the Road with Big Trucks Programme’ is targeted at communities and schools along and around the alternate route, as well as Kaikōura, to educate children and communities about safe behaviours around trucks for the rest of this year.
The Safety MAN Road Safety Truck is just one tool from a much wider Alternate Route Truck Crashes/Rollover Prevention Plan which was developed by the South Island’s Truck Crashes/Rollover Prevention Team.
The team consists of the Transport Agency, Road Transport Forum, NZ Trucking Association, Road Transport Association of NZ, Heavy Haulage, National Road Carriers, NZ Police, Commercial Vehicle Investigation Unit, NZ Transport Agency contractors and consultants, and the North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery alliance.
The shared goal is to progressively reduce the incidence and severity of single heavy vehicle rollover crashes on the alternate Picton to Christchurch route which would reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries as well as closures and delays for all road users.
Other actions include the “TruckR” app which would provide safety and journey road condition information to truck drivers, regulatory operations and two-way conversations about road and roadside improvements.
In addition to the actions outlined in the Alternate Route Truck Crashes/Rollover Prevention Plan, the Transport Agency has reviewed speed limits along the alternate route to make it safer for everyone and has committed to a $60 million improvement (external link) package to improve safety and resilience.
These improvements include guardrails, pull over areas for heavy vehicles, slow vehicle bays and road widening. There is also an increased Police presence on the route this year.
Read more about the Safety MAN road safety truck (external link) and how you can make a booking for the truck to come to your community or school.