Serious faults that forced 11 trucks off the road while transporting containers from Northport to Auckland - including bald tyres and inadequate braking - is a major risk to road users and truckies must ensure their vehicles were safe, police say.
Police will continue to check for defective trucks carrying containers from Northport, at Marsden Pt, after almost one in five failed safety checks in the first three days of the operation.
The biggest concern was 11 trucks found to have serious faults that were deemed non-operational by police commercial vehicle safety team based at Uretiti, along State Highway 1, south of Whangarei.
Between Friday and Sunday, 534 trucks were inspected of which 96 or 18 per cent failed safety checks and had to be taken off the road.
Common defects found in trucks are bald tyres, inadequate braking, and cracks in the body.
The trucks are hauling Christmas freight for Auckland retailers and began their trek south from Northport on Friday morning after 1340 containers were offloaded from Constantinos P early last week.
Some truckies were caught bypassing the police checkpoint by driving along rural roads and their truck-and-trailer units were found to have the most safety issues.
In one case, a driver out of Northport didn't even get to pick up a load because he was outside his driver hours.
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency and WorkSafe are also monitoring the truck movements between Northport and Auckland with about 800 additional heavy vehicle movements expected over a week period.
Police commercial vehicle safety team manager for Auckland and Northland, Senior Sergeant Mike Flatt, said trucks that failed safety inspections posed a considerable risk to other motorists and should never have been allowed on the road.
"Trucking companies have a duty of responsibility to all motorists to ensure their vehicles are safe and not putting their drivers and other members of the public at risk.
Truck drivers also have a responsibility themselves to ensure whatever truck they are given to drive is up to COF standards and they should always be doing a "pre-drive" check of the vehicle – particularly focusing on brake systems, tyres and lights etc," he said.
Northland Regional Land Transport Committee chairman Rick Stolwerk said safety was paramount on the road at all times and that police checks were to ensure just that.
"The increased police presence is effective and we need consistent surveillance on heavy vehicles. A lot of these truckies are from Auckland as Northland truckies don't seem to be doing long journeys."
Stolwerk appealed to motorists to allow themselves extra time to commute this holiday season.
Chief executive of the Road Transport Forum, Nick Leggett, said the trucking industry fully supported police in its job of keeping people safe on the road.
"Our view is the police checks are a good reminder to trucking operators and drivers to stay on top of maintenance, especially in the peak season when roads are busy.
"It's worth noting that most of the 18 per cent that failed the safety checks were for relatively minor issues like lights or bulbs blown off so overwhelmingly, trucks on the road are safe but clearly there are issues with maintenance."
Leggett said no trucking operator wanted to be in a situation where their vehicles were put off the road.
Meanwhile, Northport spokesman Peter Heath said there didn't appear to be any delays in clearing containers from its end.
"Whether or not all containers are removed from Northport by the end of this week depends entirely on how many, and how frequently, trucks turn up to collect them.
"We are no longer seeing the big volumes of trucks turning up within very concentrated periods of time. The result is little to no queuing, with most trucks able to be loaded immediately on arrival at the port," he said.