Parliamentary Enquiry Into Truckies


Reports of bad behaviour by truckies have upset Labour MP Darien Fenton, who is going to ask for a parliamentary enquiry.

Sunday Star Times today reports tales of truck drivers routinely falling asleep behind the wheel, driving up to 100 hours a week, not taking required breaks and scrimping on maintenance.

“I’ve met with drivers and have heard these stories for some time now, and become increasingly concerned,” says Ms Fenton.

“Economic factors and the type of dependent contracting in the intensively competitive trucking industry create an incentive for truck drivers to drive fast, work long hours and scrimp on truck maintenance because of low rates of pay.

Truckies may be subject to an inquiry

This comes after transport minister Steven Joyce has approved heavier longer trucks being on certain roads.

Darien Fenton says that accidents and injuries involving trucks are around one fifth of all road accidents in NZ and there is one death a week from crashes involving trucks. She says that drivers of trucks and other road users continue to be at risk, despite a raft of changes to safety requirements and chain of responsibility legislation.

“In addition, the majority of NZ truckers are owner-drivers (dependent contractors), and under New Zealand laws, they have no bargaining power against the large players in the supply chain. They are not covered by employment law, and in any dispute have to spend thousands of dollars in court defending their contracts.

Ms Fenton says she will this week ask the Transport and Industrial Relations Select Committee to conduct an enquiry into whether there is a link between safety in the road freight industry and rates of pay.

She will also be developing a members’ bill to give owner-drivers more rights.

“In Australia, research has shown that for every 10% more that drivers earn in pay is associated with an 18.7% lower probability of crash, and for every 10% more paid days off the probability of driver crashes declines 6.3%”

“New Zealand’s truck drivers work hard. But they shouldn’t have to put their lives and those of other road users on the line to make a living,” she says.




  1. Jeremy Harris says:

    How about a review of whether truck companies pay their way..?

    Or call for increased funding for CVIU..?

  2. rtc says:

    Would be interesting if Labour/Greens etc were to comission such study and release it - especially to see what the current subsidy for trucks is and how much bigger it will become after the super trucks are allowed.

    It would never reach a parliamentry enquiry however, as Joyce would make sure it was blocked.

  3. Cierat says:

    Its about time, there are some real issues in the trucking industry that really needed investigation years ago

    1. Speeding (often at over 120 km/h on SH1!)
    2. Damage to roads
    3. Subsidisation by ordinary motorists for road costs, both for new roads and for ongoing repairs and maintenance
    4. Accidents - a speeding truck can’t really veer off the road to miss another motorist or pedestrian, especially if carrying hazardous materials and cannot stop as easilly due to weight
    5. Pollution
    6. Uneven playing field with rail, coastal shipping and air freight
    7. Uncompetitive practices
    8. Driver hours
    9. Use of GPS tracking to enhance safety
    10. Carriage of Hazardous materials

  4. Hood says:


    1. Speeding (often at over 120 km/h on SH1!):
    I would question often but yes not all truckies are professional, there are and probably always (hope not) will be cowboys out there who think driving their big rig fast means they are a good driver, unfortunately this reflects on all truckies in a poor way.

    2. Damage to roads:
    Is that not what road user charges are supposed to cover.

    3. Subsidisation by ordinary motorists for road costs, both for new roads and for ongoing repairs and maintenance:
    Not sure where you got this from as some heavy trucks pay 147% of their costs.

    4. Accidents – a speeding truck can’t really veer off the road to miss another motorist or pedestrian, especially if carrying hazardous materials and cannot stop as easilly due to weight:
    If a speeding truck has to veer off the road to miss another motorist or pedestrian who do you think was at fault? I also think you would be surprised how well they stop as every axle that is added to spread the weight is another set of brakes added as well.

    5. Pollution:
    Modern trucks are extremely efficient and have very low emissions due to very tight emission rules in Europe and USA to which all new trucks must meet. To be competitive trucking company’s must use the most economical trucks they can and keep them well maintained, 53 tonne trucks will be even more economic in fuel usage per tonne, NZs trains on the other hand are 30 + year old technology, not the best position to be pointing the finger from! (The sooner rail gets new locos the better).

    6. Uneven playing field with rail, coastal shipping and air freight:
    Quite right, I don’t know much about the shipping companies but the sooner the trucking companies get the same subsidies as rail the better for them, good on ya!

    7 Uncompetitive practices:
    Not sure what you mean by this.

    8.Driver hours:
    There are rules to control this (log books) but as always there are cowboys who try to bend them, if they need to do this to make a dollar they won’t be around long and the CVIU will be on to them in no time anyway.

    9. Use of GPS tracking to enhance safety:
    Not sure what you mean by this but if you are referring to hours driving I say good idea bring it on and sort out the cowboys.

    10. Carriage of Hazardous materials:
    There are very strict rules regarding the carriage of hazardous materials which are strictly enforced, not sure what your point is here.

  5. cierat says:

    @ Hood. Agree GPS would fix a lot of the issues.

    1. There is a real issue with speeding trucks, but blaming “bad apples” and “cowboys” doesn’t fix the problem - 24-7 GPS monitoring with automatic speeding fines would though.
    2. Unfortunately RUCs don’t cover full costs of heavy trucks on roads. Firstly, roads have to be built to a higher specification to accommodate greater weight of trucks so vastly increased upfront cost, financed by debt for a smaller and smaller minority of road users as trucks get heavier and heavier. Secondly, greater wear and tear, so increased ongoing cost, increasing by more than inflation due to cumulative effects, financed by debt. GPS based charging to recover full cost would be the solution though.
    3. Sounds like wishful thinking - costs actually vary depending on the stretch of road in question, but RUCs will need to increase a lot more to cover the true cost of trucks as they get heavier - GPS would help here to allow finer granularity of charges.
    4. If the truck driver is speeding or hasn’t slept for days, most likely the truck driver is at fault. Fact is that trucks are unlikely to be able to “recover” from an accident - they are simply not designed to drive around with ordinary traffic. GPS would allow Government to charge different rates based on the time of day, encouraging truckies to drive outside peak times and at night when ordinary motorists that subsidise them are asleep.
    5. The fact that trucks aren’t as bad as they used to be doesn’t excuse the fact that they are a top polluter, particularly for urban driving. Trucks also outnumber train locos by a huge degree, so obviously create a lot more greenhouse gases. Trains, on the other hand, are more efficient based on diesel electric technology, less stop starts, reduced inclines and can haul many times more trailers than a truck. GPS monitoring would also assist with estimating trucks greenhouse emissions so they can also be charged for this.
    6. Trucks are the most heavily subsidised of all freight services, free riding to a large extent off other road users. They are also the least regulated. GPS would assist with reducing this gap in a number of ways.
    7. This is quite complex to set out, but an inquiry would go a long way to settle the matter!!!
    8. Unfortunately a few cowboys are often the tip of the iceberg. Trains, in contrast, are heavily regulated. Agree that GPS would also allow different RUCs and better charging as well.
    9. Unfortunately doesn’t mean much with the cowboys. Stricter monitoring via GPS would definite help fix the problems though.


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