SPEED restrictions and flashing warning lights for schools along any route for new High Performance Motor Vehicles are among the recommendations in a health and safety assessment presented to the regional transport committee.
The report also advocates getting rid of “cowboys” from the trucking industry.
Its main conclusion is that while the economic benefits of HPMV vehicles are likely to be small, there could be safety and noise improvements because of the reduced number of trips needed and the new HPMVs being better vehicles.
The assessment was presented by Rob Quigley, a director of Quigley and Watts which was commissioned to prepare the assessment by Tairawhiti District health and Gisborne District Council.
The report said fewer trips would be needed with the HPMV vehicles, reducing the number of “noise events”.
However, whether each HPMV was likely to be more or less noisy than the existing fleet had not been determined beyond 49 tonnes.
Based on interview information, new HPMV trucks were likely to be at least as quiet or quieter than the existing fleet. Opus testing confirmed that noise from HPMV vehicles up to 49 tonnes was not significantly higher.
Guessing whether HPMVs weighing between 49 and 54 tonnes would be more noisy was conjecture.
However, interviewees confirmed noise levels varied by truck origin with European specifications being superior.
Recommendations for reducing noise included surface treatment, imposing local conditions such as driver education, and noise-testing existing vehicles over 49 tonnes. The council might also want to carry out noise tests at Awapuni School, Mangapapa School and Kaiti Kindergarten.
The report said Gisborne residents already had concerns at the number and speed of trucks, especially in school zones. The implementation of HPMVs was unlikely to reduce that perception.
The report recommends flashing warning lights in school zones, and speed restrictions of 40kmh in the 50kmh zone and 60kmh in the 70kmh zone.
It suggests prominent warning signs at Mangapapa School, a turning lane at Kaiti School, a bridge and bike path at the back of Awapuni School, encouragement of police presence at schools, as well as driver training and regulation to remove cowboys.
The report says the immediate and short-term economic gains from HPMV permitted routes are likely to be low for Gisborne.
However, long-term both forestry and trucking companies supported HPMV routes as one way for the forestry industry to stay price competitive. This relied on the slow transition to the most cost-efficient HPMVs possible and new forest roads being able to cater for such trucks.
Data to know whether HPMVs were better or worse than other trucks was still being collected. If all logging freight was carried by HPMVs, which was unlikely in Gisborne, it would avert only 0.1 deaths per year.
If an HPMV was involved in an accident, the likelihood of a fatality increased. This would partially offset any potential saving in kilometres driven.
Interviewees argued that HPMVs were less likely to be involved in accidents because of driver quality, with more education, strict safety standards on truck performance, roll over standards, three strikes and you were out for speeding, and no cowboys.
If this played out as hoped by the interviewees it might boost overall safety beyond the small gains from trips averted and partially negate the fact that heavier vehicles did more damage in an accident, said Mr Quigley.