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Pike Road?

Written By: - Date published: 10:27 pm, June 21st, 2012 - 10 comments
Categories: animal welfare, farming, police, same old national, transport - Tags:

Another safety warning in today’s DomPost met National Ministerial indifference – shades of Kate Wilkinson and Pike River. Headlined “Truckies fear all roads lead to disaster,” Jon Morgan’s story starts off:

It’s the horror crash that will send shocking pictures of rural New Zealand flashing around the world. A truck and trailer overloaded with sheep drifts wide on a turn and crashes into a bus carrying schoolchildren. Bodies of dead and dying children and animals are strewn across the road.

That didn’t make it into the on-line story, which led the Business pages. Neither did the response to industry and union calls for from Associate Transport Minister Simon Bridges, saying Australian legislation that comes into force on July 1st to promote safety and fairness in the road transport industry was not needed here because “New Zealand already has a system of work time requirements to help manage the risk of fatigue”.

You’d think they’d learn.

This came after Morgan’s story started:

The North Island stock transport industry is in crisis, according to truckies, with few if any companies making a profit in recent years and many drivers forced to work long hours in overloaded trucks.

The police say they are seeing grim consequences – a laden stock truck rolls at least once a month, spilling injured animals on to the road. Allegations are also being made of bribes to some stock agents to give an operator favourable treatment over others.

Inspector Gwynne Pennell of the police’s commercial vehicle investigation unit, is sympathetic to the drivers.

“They are driving on unforgiving roads; there’s no shoulders, just crumbling sides that give way. At the same time, the stock move around and the weight distribution changes. “These guys have to be masters. It takes only a slight miscalculation to end up with a pretty ugly situation.”

She says her staff are hearing disturbing stories when they stop drivers.

“They are working 70 hours a week for a minimal wage: $16-$17-$18 an hour. So when they start fudging that log book it’s not because they’re creaming the money off. “They’re struggling to get by.” Some work for companies that give more work to those drivers prepared to stretch the rules, she says.

The meat companies are also part of the problem with AFFCO driving the hardest bargains.

Another deregulated contract-based industry heading for front-page disaster. Congratulations to Jon Morgan for bringing  the story to light. He is one of Fairfax’s best in my view.

 

 

10 comments on “Pike Road?”

  1. fender 1

    “The meat companies are also part of the problem with AFFCO driving the hardest bargains.”

    Suppose the truckies can expect to be screwed even more now that AFFCO will be looking in another direction for the money they were trying to fleece from the meatworkers.

  2. Carol 2

    So wouldn’t it be cheaper, safer and more efficient in the long run to upgrade and maintain a rail system that can do the long distance shifting of heavy loads?

    • marsman 2.1

      Exactly!!!!!!!!!!

    • Murray Olsen 2.2

      Yep. I can remember Lange and Moore’s Save the Rail campaign very well. Keeping huge trucks off the road makes a lot of sense, especially since the damage done to roads goes up as the 4th power of the mass. Letting trucks on the main roads is just another form of corporate welfare that big business feels it’s entitled to. We need to end this entitlement society.

  3. RobM 3

    A similar situation is developing in the UFB and RBI rollout. Given the time constraints it is only matter of time before someone is seriously hurt: http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/212421/contractor-sustains-shock-third-chorus-outage

  4. prism 4

    NACTs wouldn’t want to bother their transport sector mates and lovely Jenny, with whimpy little whines about standards from the drivers’ union and spokespeople. So we have drivers who are likely to be set demanding schedules while the guy is trying to earn a living and probably ‘driving’ himself too hard, and twisty narrow roads as in parts of South Island (not near lovely Ashburton though). Result accidents, and even if no-one is hurt, the road will be blocked off for other private and business drivers with schedules of their own.

    Now we have large trucks like small roadtrains dominating the road, their length hard to pass, the height looming over a normal car lacking the exaggerated 4WD height, also cutting out the forward view of the road conditions and other traffic, and the side-angled forward view that enables the driver to enjoy a view of the countryside.

    And for the following private driver there is the need to consider the traffic to the rear, as in when you know that someone is impatient to pass so you need to drop back in speed to give them safe passage and room ahead. Then there is the anxiety if it passes the truck, wondering if it will achieve this safely or involve you and other traffic in a large smash.

  5. Rich 5

    A few sheep and kids, nah..

    LPG tanker colliding with a packed commuter train next to a school would get you a *way* higher score.

  6. Bill 6

    Anyone recall the story aired by 3 news a while back concerning truckies who were busted (fined I think) for driving excessive hours…and how the whole issue of safety was seen as a reason to have a laugh?

  7. randal 7

    hey the market will fix it.
    new trucks new stock and away we go again…