The NZ Trucking Association and Safety MAN Road Safety Truck won the prestigious Trafinz Leadership Award for their outstanding contribution to Road Safety in New Zealand. The Trafinz prize is awarded based on the applicant’s solution to a transport sustainability or safety challenge. Applicants must demonstrate leadership, sound research, innovation and community involvement in the implementation of the proposed solution. Further, they must illustrate the benefits of the project as well as the ability for the solution to be replicated in other parts of the country.
Road Safety Challenge
Road Safety in New Zealand has been a major challenge in the recent past with the death toll due to road accidents rising steadily every year since 2013. The average number of road fatalities between 2010 and 2017 has been just above 300 and have been attributed to human error and the conditions of the roads. The government of New Zealand has taken several measures to invest in improving the conditions of the roads but the real challenge lies in improving road safety education and awareness among the road users in the country.
Another major cause of road accidents is natural disasters. Unforeseen disasters like earthquakes, floods and landslides can cause road fatalities directly during the event indirectly due to the lasting damage left in their wake. In November 2016, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Kaikoura town and triggered landslides on the State highway 1 to Picton rendering the SH1 impassable. The landslides would take several days to clear and many more to complete repairs. Since the SH1 is a major highway, traffic had to be redirected to an alternative road while it was closed for repairs. The inland state highway that received SH1’s traffic was not designed for such an influx of trucks, cars, buses and motorcycles that it led to a rise in truck-related road accidents.
Safety MAN Road Safety Truck
In a bid to reduce truck-related crashes and rollovers on the inland SH1 detour, the NZ Trucking Association was contracted to come up with a lasting solution for the accidents. The association, in turn, developed the Safety MAN Road Safety Truck, which is used as an awareness tool to educate road users in a mobile classroom that is housed in a MAN trailer. The association has been able to convey the safety message by driving the truck in high traffic zones, schools, events, transport companies and the community at large. Apart from road safety information, the Safety MAN truck is used to run educational programmes like the ‘Healthy Truck Driver’ and the ‘Share the Road with Big Trucks’.
The Healthy Truck Driver programme is designed to help drivers identify and deal with health issues that are common in the trucking industry before they develop complications. This program also guides the drivers on how to correctly address a number of factors that influence their performance on the job such as their diet, mental health, sleep, fatigue as well as alcohol and drug use.
The most interesting part of the Safety MAN Road Safety Truck’s ‘Share the Road with Big Trucks’ program is the ‘Talking Trucks’ module which is a series of animated video clips designed to help audiences of all ages understand basic road safety tips, consequently saving many lives. These videos highlight various elements that contribute to truck-related crashes on the roads. The clips cover several subjects including the ones mentioned below.
- Air turbulence generated by the wheels of heavy-duty trucks can cause motorcycles to wobble and lose control if they come too close.
- Cyclists should wait for trucks to clear corners if they are side-by-side with them at an intersection. Even if you are in the cycling lane, it is possible that the truck driver cannot see you due to the size and position of your bicycle.
- Large trucks have three main blind zones, one near the front, directly under the rear view mirrors and behind the trailer where the driver cannot see you. Stay clear of these zones for your safety
- Be careful to only overtake when you have a clear view of the road ahead of the truck. You need a long stretch of clear road in order to overtake a truck as you may not realize how long the trailer is until you are side-by-side with the truck.
The Safety MAN Truck has been well received in New Zealand and has the potential to be replicated all over the country. It can also be used to educate people on a wide range of trucking issues such as common truck spares and failures e. t. c. the program has run for 6 months along the alternate SH1 route and appears to be making a real difference in the number of truck-related accidents so far.