Truck drivers are leaving the industry in droves

  • 26/01/2018

Truckies are leaving the industry in droves, and reckless car drivers are mostly to blame.

While a life on the road sounds free and easy, for many truckies it's not as romantic as it sounds.

Accidents have become a major part of their daily life, as well as plenty of near misses and minor crashes.

In 2016, 75 people died in road crashes involving trucks. That's roughly 20 percent of the road toll, even though truck journeys only make up 6 percent of all travel on New Zealand roads each year.

Truck drivers were responsible for one quarter of accidents involving trucks, but 87 percent of people who died were in the smaller vehicle.

Truck driver Jason Hall says accidents are a regular point of conversation between drivers.

"Generally it's the car drivers who are the problem," he told The Project.

When it comes to intersections, passing lanes, and merging, drivers in smaller cars get into trouble when they come up against larger vehicles.

First Union representative Bryce Hamilton told Three's The Project that most truck drivers dodge up to seven times a day.

So out of fear of killing someone, many truckies are now choosing to leave the industry.

Road Transport Forum CEO Ken Shirley said: "Most commercial drivers will report that two or three times a day they will see incidents that would be regarded as a near miss."

Mr Shirley said it's a combination of poor driving and dangerous roads.

"We know that speed, fatigue and inattention are the big causes of accidents."

He said one of the worst situations is when a car is trying to pass a truck when the passing lane is running out.

"The truck has no option...You'll see one, two, three cars roar out past the truck once the passing lane has ended."

Mr Shirley said there's a "chronic shortage" of heavy combination vehicle drivers in New Zealand.