Lack of overtaking skill worries truck drivers

Lack of overtaking skill worries truck drivers

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Truck drivers and professional bodies are all in agreement that New Zealand motorists have poor overtaking skills.

According to Stuff, Leif Blair Transport driver Les Wilson, who has been driving trucks for more than 21 years, says some drivers see his truck and trailer combination as a target to pass.

Wilson told Stuff that when it comes to overtaking large trucks such as the one he pilots, motorists don’t know how or when to do it.

“It’s okay to pass, just pass in the passing lane, or when it’s clear,” says Wilson.

“People hesitate, and wait and wait. The thing is, just go for it. Accidents happen when people are hesitant,” he says.

The New Zealand Trucking Association wants to address the issue through its Share the Road campaign which it is now teaching in schools, as well as community groups and even other truck drivers.

Share the Road covers essential motoring skills such as how to pass safely, pull over safely, and also actions that cyclists can take to maximise their safety in urban areas.

Chief executive David Boyce told Stuff the dire situation faced by professional truck drivers on the road saw the Association take matters into its hands.

Boyce told Stuff that the driver licence testing process doesn’t address issues for motorists and motorcyclists around sharing the road with trucks, and there is no education process in place to address them.

“We put them in the cab of a truck, so they can see what the driver can and cannot see,” he says.

While the Automobile Association told Stuff it believes changes need to be made to empower motorists to pass, it is more concerned with slow and inconsiderate drivers.

The AA’s general manager of motoring affairs Mike Noon says New Zealand needs to create a culture where slower drivers pull over when they see other motorists being held up behind them.

“If a slow driver is holding up five or six cars and it is safe for the driver to pull over, police should have the discretionary power to ticket the motorist,” says Noon.

Noon emphasized the word discretionary, as there are always cases where driving slowly is the safe thing to do.

He suggests the culture change would be assisted by putting in more passing lanes or slow vehicle bays on roads that carry a mixture of cars, trucks, campervans, and agricultural vehicles.

“The slow bays are usually quite cost-effective, but we have to create the culture where people know they have to pull over,” he says.

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