Whenever people bring up New Zealand road safety, they will often summon up statistics for cars, bikes or pedestrians. It's understandable – the majority of road users will fall into one of these categories.
But what about those in larger vehicles – what about those fleet managers with fuel cards, or small businesses that primarily use vans? Are the same statistics and subsequent areas of safety focus applicable to them? Let's take a look.
A brief overview
A crash involving a truck is far more likely to seriously hurt the people involved.
According to the Ministry of Transport, trucks are heavily over-represented in fatal crashes. Due to their larger mass, a crash involving a truck is far more likely to seriously hurt the people involved. Despite only travelling about 6 per cent of the distance travelled on New Zealand roads in 2015, about 18 per cent of the total deaths on our roads last year involved trucks.
However, this isn't to say that truck drivers are at fault – in fact, it's quite the opposite. The Ministry of Transport tells us that the more serious a crash is, the less likely it is that the truck driver is to be at fault. Only a third of fatal crashes were primarily the responsibility of the truck driver – the rest were either out of their control, or due to issues from the other party.
According to a survey from AIG, Kiwis apparently consider poor driving ability or inexperience from drivers to be the top issue that makes roads unsafe, and this is an important factor to consider when trying to make your fleet more safe. But more often than not, it isn't your drivers that are at fault in serious crashes. However, that doesn't mean they do not have a level of responsibility.
If the most serious crashes aren't the fault of the truck driver, what can you do to help?
The Ministry of Transport tells us that the most common reason for a truck crash was loss of control, or being run off the road, followed quickly by manoeuvering. As we head deeper into winter, these issues will become more apparent as the roads ice over and wet conditions become the norm.
Keep your drivers equipped with the tools and training they need to ensure they don't suffer a crash, and keep your fleet maintenance (particularly your tyres) up to scratch to battle against the elements. Ultimately, trucks don't often seriously crash due to driver error – but that doesn't mean you can't help stop the road toll rising with regular fleet repairs!