In 2014, truck crashes accounted for 23% of the road toll.

The good part about this is that:

1. It upholds what we all know: that Johnny Normal car driver is a menace on the road and as a result ¾ of all fatalities are cars and other light vehicles.
2. Truck crashes per million kms travelled have reduced by 66% over the last 22 years.

Vehicle safety improvements have meant that the road toll has started falling, but with nearly 10% more fatalities in 2015 vs 2014 and truck crashes accounting for a bigger and bigger percentage of those deaths, we need to stop the crashes happening in the first place.

For professional truck drivers to be involved in almost a quarter of all road fatalities, this is something we need to address. On average, we are killing 13 truck drivers per year, 2 of them dying in single vehicle crashes. Another 75 people are killed in or around truck crashes every year.

The biggest change you can make this year is to moderate your speed. As the diagram (based on Ministry of Transport stats) shows, 30% of all fatalities are primarily caused by speed.

Cause of Primary Causes of Crashes 2014

You are driving faster than you think. I have yet to review GPS records of a fleet and confirm the fleet owner’s perception of the speed that his trucks are travelling. Every single time I look at the data for a fleet, I have to break the news to the boss that his drivers are reaching open road speeds 10 – 20km/h faster than he had expected. Normally between a quarter and a third of the fleet are regular speedsters, putting themselves and other road users at risk. 80% of deaths from truck crashes are on the open road.

Yes, it is true that in 61% of truck crashes, the fault was not with the truck driver, but the faster you are driving, the less time you have to react to someone else doing something dumb and the longer it takes you to stop when they block the road in front of you. It might not have been your fault, but you become part of their mess.

This isn’t about improving your ORS or staying on the right side of the new Health and Safety rules. This is about making sure you make it home tonight. The new penalties coming in will make it really uncomfortable for your boss if it turns out that you have been speeding when someone else crashed into your truck. It will be even more unpleasant for you as you recover from your injuries and meet the family of the other driver.

It is now normal practice for your manager to monitor speed events from the GPS in your truck and to review these with you. This is to help you to look after your own safety.

It’s no wonder we’ve got a driver shortage. In the 15 years to 2014, 470 truck drivers have been killed whilst driving their truck in NZ. SLOW DOWN, stay alert and don’t let it be you or one of your colleagues in 2016.