The fear of being in a serious crash and the high number of near-misses are causing some truck drivers to leave their jobs, according to one haulage company.
On Sunday a car crossed the centre line of Ash Pit Rd, near Rerewhakaaitu, east of Rotorua, crashing head-on with an oncoming truck and killing the car's 32-year-old driver.
Yesterday morning a person was taken to hospital in a moderate condition after a truck and ute collided on State Highway 5 between Waiotapu Loop Rd and Campbell Rd.
Rotorua Forest Haulage health and safety manager Dave Adams said its trucks were not involved in either crash, but being in one was "a very big concern" for its drivers.
"The general public is probably their number one risk and their number one cause of stress."
Adams said drivers could have near-misses three to four times a day.
"We had a driver who was seeing a high number of near-misses that weren't his fault; eventually he was too scared to drive a truck.
"The truck drivers can get quite upset sometimes and just a near-miss can leave them feeling pretty jittery."
He said the company was proactive in reporting high-risk areas identified by drivers to the New Zealand Transport Agency and was working with the agency to review the Hemo Gorge and Waipa intersections.
"The public aren't taught specifically how to drive around trucks, and that's something you don't realise the seriousness of until you are behind the wheel of a truck.
"The end of merging lanes is our biggest area of worry. We see people who at the end of the lane are halfway down the truck who is indicating to merge and they keep going.
"The truck just can't physically stop or stay left so the car is pushed right, potentially into oncoming traffic. Cars need to back off and let the truck come out and pass it at a later time."
He thought the root cause was impatience.
"People have a weird thing, they can't just sit behind a truck, they have this need to get past it. Even the police acknowledge this.
"We get calls complaining our trucks don't pull over, but they always will, when it is safe to do so."
After a crash, Rotorua Forest Haulage works with providers and ACC to organise counselling for drivers and to ease them back on to the road.
"But there are a few who will still quit driving," Adams said.
Rotorua police area prevention manager Inspector Brendon Keenan said truck drivers usually came out of a crash better off physically, but they were often left with emotional and mental scars.
"It really affects them and it is quite often out of their control."
Keenan said truck drivers were generally not to blame for crashes.
"Generally they follow the road speed, they are good drivers.
"For them, it's their career and their livelihood and it's a complete unknown. From one day to the next they don't know when an accident could happen."
Advice for sharing the road with large trucks
• Give trucks room at merging lanes, they aren't able to stop suddenly
• Look for a truck's indicators
• Be patient, you don't have to rush in front
• They will let you know when it is safe to overtake by pulling to the left
• Be aware trucks will be slower at intersections and roundabouts
• You can use the number on the back of trucks to compliment a driver on their behaviour, report a near-miss area or to complain
- Rotorua Forest Haulage