Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Government increases maximum truck weight allowed on the roads

The "Land Transport Rule: Vehicle Dimensions and Mass Amendment 2010" will allow the maximum weight of trucks operating on NZ roads to be increased from the current 44 tonnes to 53 tonnes as from 1 May. There will also be provision for loads above 53 tonnes but these "will only be granted in very specific instances."

According to Transport Minister Steven Joyce, "New Zealand's freight task is forecast to increase by 70 to 75 percent over the next 25 years and while rail and coastal shipping will play an increasingly important role in meeting the freight task it is expected that the bulk of this increase will be carried on our roads." [our emphasis]

According to him, "this creates an environment where productivity gains in the range of 10 to 20 percent could be realised by using fewer trucks to carry a given amount of freight while enabling the impacts of heavy vehicles to be properly managed. This will help to reduce road congestion, operating costs, vehicle emissions and improve the road safety environment by slowing the increase in heavy vehicle movements on New Zealand's roads.

"Trucks carrying heavier loads will not be any wider or higher than present vehicles, though a limited number may be slightly longer. Roads that are allowed to be used by vehicles will be specified in their permit and road controlling authorities will have the final say on whether routes applied for are suitable for heavier vehicles. Any vehicle issued with a permit to operate at a heavier weight under a permit system will have to meet all appropriate safety requirements."

Well, folks, all this means that while driving along the roads you're going to encounter a lot more longer and heavier trucks in future - how do you feel about that? We thought so.

Here is some important safety advice when you encounter these behemoths in hazardous road conditons...

Driving in winter weather is hard enough, but driving in close proximity to a massive truck in slippery conditions is a lot worse. The normal rules of the road simply don’t apply when you're around one of these gigantic machines. For one thing, when you’re driving either directly in front of or behind a 16-wheeler+, it's important to keep as much distance as possible between your car and the tractor-trailer, because of the longer time it takes for these trucks to stop when braking. Tailgating is inadvisable in any situation, but when the vehicle in front of you or especially behind you is a tractor trailer, it's doubly dangerous.

Always stay alert for signals from the truck driver. For instance, because of its bulk, a tractor trailer will often move to the right first before it makes a left turn because of the wider turning radius it requires. It's important to keep your wits about you at all times, and play close attention to every sign the truck driver makes. Never attempt to overtake a tractor trailer at high speed. Slippery winter roads can increase the risk that you might skid right into the path of the 53 tonne+ monster. Also watch out for bursting truck tyres, a frequent occurrence with these heavy trucks. If a tyre bursts when you are close by, large slabs of sheared rubber can shoot out like rocks, and smash though your windscreen or that of any passenger cars nearby.

If you're driving in bad weather, it's best to slow down and keep as far away from huge trucks as possible.

Bad weather can magnify the effect of the usual causes of huge-truck accidents, like driver fatigue, defective truck parts, speeding, and alcohol or drug abuse by truck drivers, resulting in catastrophic injuries for themselves and other motorists. Even when poor visibility and slick road conditions contribute, there may yet be other factors at work like driver negligence, inattentiveness or speeding that can be root causes of accidents. In any case, drivers of these monsters must be extra cautious in adverse weather conditions to avoid an accident that could be hazardous not only to them, but also to other motorists nearby.


Anonymous said...

ugh, bad news for motorists - some good safety advice.

Anonymous said...

This new law should speed up delivery of goods and assist in road building and maintenance of our roads though, the more they can carry the more efficient it will become.
The majority of truck drivers i encounter on our roads are very courteous and pull to the left for safe passing wherever possible.
Like the safety advice

Anonymous said...

Be a long while yet before these so called 53 ton monsters are a common site on our roads