There were eight truck rollover crashes on State highway 1 between Christchurch and Kaikoura area in 2013, compared to five in 2012 and four in 2011.
In the last ten years there have been 70 of these types of crashes on this route. These figures were behind a call from the Transport Agency for truck drivers to travel 10km/h below the posted speed advisory signs on corners, and to pull over and take a 20 minute power nap when tired.
This latest rise in truck rollover crashes is in contrast to a decline in recent years. Truck rollovers peaked at 11 along the Kaikoura Coast in 2008. Kieran Turner, the Transport Agency’s Access and Use Manager for the Southern Region, says this prompted the Transport Agency to begin talking directly with truck operators about this issue and to explore ways to reduce these crashes which have tragically claimed lives and caused serious injuries.
Many transport operators responded by instigating initiatives to enhance truck driver support. One example is putting in place speed alerts if trucks are driving too quickly through GPS ring fenced portions of this route.
Mr Turner says last year’s increase highlights the need for drivers to take extra care along this particular freight route. The main crash causes are; fatigue and speed which are all preventable crash factors.
With the trip on SH 1 between Christchurch and Picton predominately being truck trailer swaps, the biggest risk for truck drivers is familiarity that leads to complacency and perhaps a lack of attention to detail by some drivers. This observation is supported by the fact that many experienced truck drivers have been in a rollover crash he said.
Statistics show, 78% of rollovers occur on corners with speed advisory signs and 80% of the time the road is dry. An appreciation of these statistics, forms part of the Transport Agency’s education programme and conversations on this issue with trucking industry management and drivers.
While there are always inherent risks in being on the road, the biggest for drivers on this particular route is between 3am and 6am heading south of Kaikoura.
Kieran Turners says this is no surprise, but it poses a challenge on how we keep drivers safe on their return leg from Picton when driver fatigue kicks in.
While everyone - trucking companies, industry groups, Police and the Transport Agency - have worked hard to reduce rollover crashes, we know we can all work together to decrease, if not eliminate, these crashes - that is the challenge for all of us.