Dannevirke: Operation aims to avert truck crashes

By Christine McKay

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Sandy Walker meets truck drivers with goodie bags at a health and safety stop in Dannevirke. Photo / Christine McKay
Sandy Walker meets truck drivers with goodie bags at a health and safety stop in Dannevirke. Photo / Christine McKay

Logging truck driver Lance Riddell was one of more than 70 drivers who took part in the driver health and safety stop in Dannevirke last Thursday.

Carterton truck driver Lance Riddell has his blood pressure checked by nurse Liz Harvey at a truck stop.
Carterton truck driver Lance Riddell has his blood pressure checked by nurse Liz Harvey at a truck stop.

From Carterton, Mr Riddell was heading north with his load of logs when he pulled into the Hargreaves yard south of Dannevirke during a joint operation between Horizons Regional Council and Linda Anderson from Road Safe Hawke's Bay, as part of an inter-regional approach to address driver fatigue.

"The operation was also supported by the Tararua Alliance, Dannevirke Police, the Road Transport Association, as well as local businesses who operate out of Hargreaves yard," Debbie Webster, Horizons road safety co-ordinator for Tararua and Horowhenua, said.

"We see this as an opportunity to talk to truck drivers about being safe on the road and provide them with resources which promote safe driving practices."

Over the years, there have been a number of truck crashes in the Tararua and Hawke's Bay districts and Ms Webster said it's really important to be able to highlight the need for drivers to take breaks, keep to the speed limits and look after their general health.

Helping out on Thursday was Sandy Walker, the area executive for the Road Transport Association.

"From an operator's point of view, it's very good for drivers to have a health and safety check like this. It saves the driver and the operator time and money.

"For a driver to take time off to go to the doctor for a check, that means either a relief driver has to be employed for half a day, or they miss out on work. So to do this on the move is absolutely priceless."

For Mr Riddell the stop was very worthwhile. "I get a health check every six months, but I'm quite happy to take time for a check today, because I've got diabetes and high blood pressure."

For drivers who didn't stop for a health check, there was a goodie bag with food and driving safe information.

Mr Riddell's health check with registered nurse Liz Harvey took just five minutes and he was back on the road again.

"The ability to effectively manage the factors which contribute to driver fatigue is one of the most important skills for a truck driver in today's high pressure work environment," Ms Webster said. "I was very pleased. We had 71 trucks pull over for the stop, which was good considering we closed down early because of the high winds, and 41 of those drivers took time for a health check."

"When drivers are out on the road they usually don't take the time to get their blood pressure checked, so road stops like these are important and we're looking at repeating this again in the future."

The statistics:

* In 2014, 67 people died and 772 were injured in road crashes involving trucks.

* That was 23 per cent of all deaths and 7 per cent of all reported injuries on our roads.

* Truck drivers have the primary responsibility for only 35 per cent of the fatal crashes in which they are involved.

* The peak time for truck accidents are during the main working hours of 8am and 4pm on week days.

* In crashes involving trucks, most of those who die (81 per cent in 2014) are not truck occupants.

* Fewer than one in five deaths in a truck crash are truck drivers or passengers.

* 57 per cent are car or van drivers or passengers, pedestrians (10 per cent), motorcyclists (7 per cent) and cyclists (5 per cent).

* Safety levels are improving. The number of fatal crashes involving a truck for every 100 million km driven has dropped to a third of what it was in the early 1990s.

Source: The Ministry of Transport

Tips for truck drivers on long journeys:

* Plan where you can take breaks.
* Get plenty of good sleep before your journey.
* Try and eat healthy meals and drink plenty of water while you are on the road.
* Avoid excessive caffeine; this includes energy drinks.
* Keep your windscreen clean.
* If you have trouble sleeping, seek medical advice.
* Consider having regular health checks.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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