Plan ahead now to combat future risks

In News5 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineSeptember 9, 2022

I’m really enjoying my new role with Transporting New Zealand. There is commonality with my former role as South Island head of the Police Commercial Vehicle Safety Team on the enforcement side, and on the advocacy side with my former role as vice president of the New Zealand Police Association.

This industry is full of genuine people who care about their communities and want to get stuff done. In the police they would say they wanted everyone to be at the Christmas dinner table. I am still passionate about road safety and making sure people make good decisions.

At Transporting New Zealand, we can help businesses in various ways. Road transport is about more than just holding the wheel of a truck – there’s a lot of people behind the scenes. They have been hailed for their role throughout the Covid pandemic but they need to make sure they are valuing themselves by pricing their services appropriately. We can help by offering advice on cost modelling. Recently a company was pleasantly surprised by the renegotiated rates they were able to achieve after a talk with one of our Transporting New Zealand advisors.

We also advocate for the transport sector around key risks. Spring is upon us and here in the south we have just had fresh snow on the ground followed by sunshine on the daffodils, so it is very changeable. Nelson, Marlborough, and Northland all face significant ongoing challenges; Northland people are going to be without part of State Highway 1 for the foreseeable future and that’s tough for that community.

The challenge now is making sure people are able to respond to those risks and significant weather events. We used to talk about one-in-100-year events – well, they are now happening far more often. Waka Kotahi reports that in the last three years there have been 30 instances in which they have had to stand up their emergency response team to respond to significant weather events and natural disasters.

As well as the roads, there are other risks that professional drivers need to watch out for. The police talk about restraints, impairment, distraction, and speed. Drivers must be really mindful about how they are behaving and always drive defensively. At times, sadly, it is out of drivers’ hands as something happens in front of them and you can’t avoid it when you are in a big rig or a heavy vehicle. Risk is around us every day – on the roads, with the weather, or not being able to deliver a product to market.

How well does your company have plans in place to respond to those risks? Do you have a crisis management plan? Do you have business continuity planning? In the event that you have major sickness like we have seen over the past couple of years with the pandemic, is your company able to keep functioning, and functioning well? Many companies have some kind of plan, but maybe it was a little bit of luck that got them through on occasions. Start thinking about risk, start thinking about planning: for crises, weather events, and natural disasters. We need to make sure people are resilient.

I liken it to an insurance policy, so if you suddenly face a significant risk, you have already turned your mind to it. If you already have a plan in place then that crisis will be easier to manage. We are well connected across New Zealand and are able to communicate quickly at times of significant events, such as national emergencies to assist in responding to those times of uncertainty.

I am optimistic about the road transport industry. It’s innovative, it’s passionate, it cares about New Zealanders, it cares about the future, and I think it’s in good heart. There are going to be some difficult times ahead and who knows what vehicles will look like in 10 years? Change is inevitable, and in the transport industry change is a constant. We need to be ready for it.

By Mike McRandle, regional and sector manager for Transporting New Zealand