LOGGING truck drivers are the worst offenders for speed in results of an undercover police heavy vehicle sting that targeted the East Coast.
A two-day covert operation by police recorded 100 heavy motor vehicles speeding along State Highway 35 . . . and 98 of them were logging trucks.
Most of the trucks recorded speeding were travelling between 100 and 108kmh. The highest speed was 118kmh. The speed limit for heavy motor vehicles on the open road is 90kmh.
Some trucks were snapped speeding many times, with one truck exceeding the limit five times over the two days.
Acting manager for the Gisborne area for the Commercial Vehicle Investigation Unit, Senior Sergeant Phil Critchley, said police were astounded at the large number of heavy motor vehicles over the speed limit, but were even more surprised to find that so many of them were logging trucks.
Because it was a covert operation, the trucks and their drivers were not stopped. It was not known if the truck recorded speeding five times had the same driver. But if it turned out that it was, there was a possibility the driver could lose his licence, said Snr Sgt Critchley.
Police had identified several companies that were the “worst offenders” but Mr Critchley declined to name them. The operators will receive follow-up requests and it is expected infringement notices will be issued to all drivers.
The CVIU spent two days covering the Coast road SH35 north of Gisborne and through Tolaga and Tokomaru Bays. In total, 111 vehicles were recorded speeding, with 100 of them heavy motor vehicles.
Mr Critchley said the number of trucks caught in the sting was a major concern for police.
“This should be a huge concern for the transport industry and trucking companies. Drivers are not only putting their own lives at risk, but also making the roads extremely dangerous for other road users.
“No-one is going to survive a 44-tonne truck hurtling towards them at close to 120kmh,” he said.
The police release has made national news and comments left on the Gisborne Herald facebook page show most people were not surprised by the results.
“I have driven the Gisborne to Tolaga Bay road frequently over the past 15 years and it never ceases to amaze me the stupid things the logging truck drivers do.
“I’ve been passed by trucks when I’m doing 100kmh and had multiple near misses as truck drivers pass head-on into other traffic and tailgate.”
Another commentator had a near miss with a logging truck overtaking another logging truck on a blind corner.
“I was pushed to the side of the road and I stopped but they both carried on.”
Snr Sgt Critchley said SH35 along the Coast was renowned for its narrowness and sharp corners, and the road was not in the best condition for vehicles travelling at speed.
“Truck drivers need to be more responsible with their driving, and trucking companies need to take some major responsibility for their staff and for the safety of the wider public.
“There might be different reasons why drivers are speeding — whether it’s to do with hours or the remoteness of the highway — but there are some serious health and safety issues that companies need to address,” he said.
- Eastland Wood council chief executive Trevor Helson said the situation was extremely disappointing.
There was no acceptable reason or excuse for the drivers to think that they could break the law in this way, he said.
“It is intolerable that they are doing just that. Unfortunately we have no direct control over how they behave, as they are not employees, but we will be taking immediate steps to address this with the various trucking companies and their association.
“We expect them to listen and to act so this debacle never happens again.
“It is frustrating that a few can endanger the lives of people on the road and also endanger the livelihoods of so many families in the region. It is not good enough.”
Mr Helson said the results of the sting were upsetting and a real let-down.
“We have been pointing out to drivers for some time that they are the public face of the industry and need to be particularly careful how they behave.
“I have on several occasions publicly supported them and complimented them on the good work they do, and commented on how important it is for the whole industry for their public image to be untarnished.
“The forestry companies contract these people and expect them to deliver the logs safely and within all the laws of this land.”