Trucker proudly defends his trade

Trucking for 35 years has given Bob Newton plenty of insight into the drivers he describes as "a few cowboys" on Northland roads.

"I can confidently say that 90 per cent of log truck drivers in the North are good truck drivers. We're capable, well-skilled, conscientious and just making a decent living. However, the 10 per cent spoil it for everyone," he said.

Mr Newton's employer Dan Henderson got in touch with the Advocate after he was photographed driving through a red light at the State Highway 1 and Maunu Road intersection on May 2.

The Commercial Vehicle Inspection Unit (CVIU) pulled over Mr Newton for a routine inspection after the photo was published and Mr Newton raised the issue of the short phases at the lights. The lights issue was resolved by the CVIU and Mr Newton said he believes the light phases have been extended.

Mr Newton's working day began at 2:30am on Tuesday when he left his Awanui home and didn't finish until he returned to Te Kau, picked up a second load and swapped the driver's seat with Mr Henderson in Awanui around 3pm.

He couldn't believe his luck when he passed through four green lights in a row, after the Advocate joined him for a ride at 9am then headed down SH1 out of town. His yellow American truck has done more than a million kilometres and at the moment it costs $5500 in diesel and road user charges for every 10,000 kilometres travelled.

The relentless roar of the 400-horsepower truck and the strained back after every bump and gear change jostles the driver's seat is a whole other cost.

Mr Newton said cowboys on the road need to remember that nothing can be taken for granted when you have more than 40 tonnes of truck and trailer behind you.

"You've got to be pulling the trailer, not the trailer pushing you, that's when you can tip. Some drivers are always trying to make up lost time, but at the end of the day, it's dangerous," he said.

His biggest fear are the stories of drivers deliberately driving under trucks, and hopes to never come across a situation like this on the roads.

Along the ride drivers keep tabs on each other through the radio system but Mr Newton turns the volume down when the swearing gets too much, he said.

A touch of road rage is all part of the job.

He wished other motorists would understand that trucks will pull over when they can, rather than seeing motorists taking massive risks to overtake.

"I've seen trucks cutting cars off, and cars cutting trucks off. People need to remember that trucks are capable of maintaining a high constant speed, and not to dash out in front of them.

"There are a lot of good people in this game," Mr Newton said, "and people should remember that."

- Northern Advocate

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