Comment: Staying safe on the road

By: Meryn Morrison, WiRT chairperson

Recently, WiRT asked some dispatchers and truckies what road users should be aware of and what was important to them. Their feedback was well worth sharing.

Firstly, motorists and cyclists need to be aware of how big the blind spots on trucks are. There have been many unfortunate accidents over the years involving cars or cyclists trying to sneak up beside a turning truck and the driver being totally unaware of their presence.


Trucks might have big mirrors but they are trained along the length of the vehicle and don’t allow the driver to see out the side that far. Advice to cyclists at intersections is to go forward until you can see the driver in the cab, give a friendly wave, and indicate which way you are going as early as possible.

Another issue that came up frequently was about other motorists needing to give trucks plenty of space, especially in front when they are slowing for an intersection. Good heavy vehicle driving techniques demand operators slow and anticipate for lights changing green so they don’t have to come to a full stop and can, therefore, accelerate away from a rolling speed.

Cars often duck in front of trucks at the last minute, changing lanes, and significantly shortening the safe zone that the truck needs to slow down. If you have to move in front of a truck please give them plenty of warning of your intention and pull well ahead. Remember, they cannot stop as quickly as you can.

With all our fine hot days at the moment, all the grime, rubber, and road dust are building up waiting to become greasy once we get some rain. If a truck is in front of you and there is spray to the side, do not attempt to pass, unless totally sure of the road in front.

If you have to, sit well behind and enjoy having the truck’s wheels drying the road for you until you get to the next passing lane. Sitting at 90km/h for a few minutes is a minor inconvenience.

Also, please don’t blame the truck driver if you are unable to pass for a few kilometres. Our road network is slowly improving but the reality is on some of our tighter and twistier routes there are not too many passing opportunities. The truck driver will do his best to pull over when he or she can depending on what their load is.

Give the truck a break, though; you don’t’ know what conditions the driver is dealing with. They might have a bigger load than normal, be a new young driver, or not know the road that well.

Please be patient. We’re not out on the road to upset you. We just need to get your food to the supermarket, your new TV to the store, or your product to market.

Finally, a huge thanks to those motorists who ‘get it’ and are considerate to trucks on the road. The drivers I’ve spoken to are very appreciative of car drivers who stay at a decent speed, find appropriate places to pass, and remain patient when there isn’t a safe way past. Those people make a truck driver’s day.

Finally, I want to share with you another career development opportunity for women in our industry.

Women & Leadership Australia is administering a national initiative to support the development of female leaders across New Zealand’s transport and logistics sector.

The campaign is providing women with grants of between $3000 and $7000 to enable participation in a range of leadership development programs. The funding is strictly limited and has to be allocated prior to the end of March 2019.

Find out more and register your interest by completing the Expression of Interest form prior to Friday, 15 March 15. The form can be found at  

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