Road safety week runs from 9-15 May 2022. It is a community event coordinated by Brake, a road safety charity that works to prevent road death and injury, make streets and communities safer, and support the victims of road crashes. Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency sponsors the event, along with Beca.
We encourage communities to take a holistic look at all components of road safety, as how all road users behave and perform affects professional drivers and can make the difference between life and death.
There are many components that need analyses to create truly safe roads including driver ability and behaviour; road conditions; and the impact of the economy on how businesses manage health and safety.
We back Government initiatives to improve driver ability and behaviour. We have solidly supported the law changes to allow for roadside drug testing and we were pleased to see this week a pre-Budget announcement allocating $86.5 million to clear the road for 64,000 people to get a driver licence.
Transporting New Zealand has been working with the Ministry of Social Development and Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency for some time to improve access to driver licensing, and in particular on the Graduated Driver Licensing System framework. We see this as critical to an ongoing workforce for truck driving, particularly in regional New Zealand where there is both plenty of work in trucking, but also barriers for young people to get a driver licence.
We would love to see every New Zealander leaving school with a driver licence so they are work ready from the get-go. As 93 percent of all goods moved around New Zealand are on the back of a truck, we need drivers all the time.
If someone comes into our industry with a driver licence, it makes it so much easier for them to be employed and work through to getting the class of licence they need for a long career in trucking. We promote this through our dedicated driver training programme Te ara ki tua Road to success.
The Government spends a lot of energy focused on speed, primarily reducing speed limits throughout the land, rather than fixing unsafe roads.
Worn and damaged roads are not only unsafe, they take an economic toll on trucking operators. Tyres and parts of trucks are damaged more frequently by potholes and poor road surfaces.
But the big concern facing our industry is what is happening with the supply chain and the New Zealand economy. As price pressures go on across the board, road freight transport is often the squeezed meat in the sandwich.
Operators are watching the likes of building companies folding because they cannot get supplies into New Zealand and that has a flow on effect for many businesses.
Massive congestion at Chinese ports suggests New Zealand is going to be in real trouble getting goods in and out of the country – which is the basis of our economy as a trading nation.
All the while, costs skyrocket.
What this means is businesses retrench. Where they might have bought a new truck, they won’t because the finance might not be accessible, the manufacturer has waiting lists years long, and even if the truck was available, shipping to New Zealand is questionable.
That leads to people trying to get more out of less. And that impacts safety.
The value of an industry organisation such as Transporting New Zealand is we can help businesses plan and prepare for what’s ahead and offer advice along the way.
Instead of tinkering with the supply chain – an area the Government is not qualified to play in – the best thing this Government can do is focus on getting the economy back on track and opening up the country to the world. They say we are open, but ask anyone who has experienced travel recently and that is not the view.
We all wait with bated breath for Budget 2022 on 19 May.
- Nick Leggett, CEO, Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand