The purpose

The purpose of this Advisory is to share lessons learned from operating during earlier COVID-19 lockdown periods and the impacts on road safety, and to share information from the NZ Police Commercial Vehicle Safety Team (CVST).

Lessons learned

As expected, the reduced business activity experienced during lockdowns reduces traffic volumes. Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency advise that a comparison of state highway traffic volumes at key traffic sites in the main urban centres on Wednesday 18 August and Wednesday 11 August indicate traffic volumes falling between 63% and 72%. On the one hand, reduced traffic volumes are beneficial in that exposure to risk reduces, as has been seen in the road death toll during previous lockdown months. In addition, the absence of traffic congestion reduces freight trip delays. However, less congested roads create a natural tendency for drivers to increase speed. This change in behaviour is confirmed by Police, advising that an increase in mean free flowing traffic speeds was measured in previous lockdown periods. There is a correlation between speed and crash risk and as speed increases so does crash risk therefore, we recommend operators pay extra attention to speed management.

Keeping safe and enforcement

The RTF has been continuing our positive and proactive engagement with CVST and that team will be endeavoring to keep the network open and have freight moving as stress free as possible. CVST has a responsibility to not only keep the public safe from heavy vehicles, but also vice versa. Therefore, Police enforcement will be particularly focusing on the following areas for heavy and light vehicles during the lockdown:

• Restraints
• Impairment – includes fatigue/drink/drug
• Distraction
• Speed

Unlike a lot of business activities and workers, a common thing we share with Police during lockdown is that largely, we both remain out there playing essential roles in keeping the country going. This is something our industry is proud of, and in these extra challenging times there are new risks so please put in place any additional steps you need to ensure we all keep operating safely on our roads.