Trucking Industry Summit 2022

In NTA, October 202213 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineNovember 9, 2022

In the September, October, and November 2022 issues, we summarise the key addresses from the Trucking Industry Summit 2022 held in Christchurch at the end of July. This month, the ministry, regulator, and police.

Harriet Shelton

Ministry of Transport

MoT manager supply chain The industry needs to get itself into a good position to handle change and to prepare for the challenges ahead, says Shelton.

“It was only 100 years ago that horses were the main way we moved freight around New Zealand. Major system shifts have happened before – and we do adjust. But the pace of change seems to have accelerated – it just seems to be faster than ever.”

Shelton says New Zealand is at risk of losing its clean green image if it doesn’t make changes to emissions targets.

“We all know that heavy vehicles contribute a lot of emissions. We’ve seen the statistics,” she says. “But New Zealand is always going to be dependent on road transport. Even if we shift a little bit more by rail and coastal shipping, transport will still be the main way we move freight. And so the task of decarbonising that road freight is a really, really important one.”

Shelton says the government’s goal of reducing transport emissions is happening while freight tasks are increasing.

“We need to accelerate the uptake of zero-emission heavy vehicles. We need to reduce the emissions in our existing fleets by improving vehicle efficiencies and operational efficiencies,” she says.

“Ninety-three percent of our freight in New Zealand is carried by road. That’s unlikely to change very much. We need to prepare the system to face the substantial changes that are going to occur.

“This poses a lot of challenges for the sector, but also provides a lot of opportunities for the system to do better and to work smarter.”

Tara MacMillan

Waka Kotahi
Road to Zero portfolio manager

Waka Kotahi has a decade-long strategy to reduce death and serious injuries by 40% by 2030 against 2018 levels.

MacMillan says only an 11% reduction has been achieved so far, so much more work is needed. Key interventions include Alcolocks, safety cameras, police enforcement, with speed and infrastructure two significant components.

She says where infrastructure is not an option or funding isn’t available, lowering speeds is necessary to make roads safer. “We recognise that changes like dropping down to 80kph is a lot for New Zealanders to wrap their heads around.

“We know that profit equals efficiency. We know that supply-chain costs have increased. But we also know that evidence tells us lower speeds reduce wear and tear on your trucks, and that is a noticeable benefit of those lower speeds.

“However, we also know that you want to see our state highways supplying as much of the network at 100kph as much as possible. We are taking a pragmatic approach.”

MacMillan says to get New Zealanders and industries behind the Road to Zero strategy, Waka Kotahi must get the pace of change right.

“And that is why you might see greater use of 90kph where it makes sense and on interim bases only over the next few years,” she says. However, if other solutions cannot be rolled out, the speed limit will stay or be lowered even further.

MacMillan says there is also a focus on making fleets safer, with the industry working to remove one- and two-star vehicles – which 30% of deaths are attributed to – out of fleets.

Technology also plays a big part in the Road to Zero strategy. “We know a lot of you are already on the journey of adopting telematics. We think that will absolutely encourage safe behaviours,” she says. “It is a focus of our three-year action plan that kicks off next year.”

Fatigue management is also a hot topic, according to MacMillan. “We need drivers to make the right choices. Reviews are underway, and a lot of work has been done to see what is in place over in Australia, the settings they’ve deployed, the learnings they’ve had, so we can apply that to New Zealand.”

Neil Walker

Waka Kotahi
National maintenance and operations

Climate change, emissions targets, population growth and an increase in road freight over the past decade have thrown a few headaches Waka Kotahi’s way.

Walker says one of Waka Kotahi’s key priorities is preparing for New Zealand’s weather events that damage roads and infrastructure. “We’ve had a pretty tough past six months with the intensity of our weather events. We are refreshing our longer-term planning because we know there’s a lot ahead that we’re going to have to think about how we respond, and the first of those is climate change,” he says.

“We’ve got a reasonably resilient highway, but it is getting harder and harder to actually manage, and the events are getting harder to respond to due to the intensity of them.”

Walker says the government’s emissions-reductions plan is also a priority. “We have to figure out what that actually means for the way that we undertake our work in the network. It’s a 30-year strategy, but it’s got to look at what we need to do tomorrow right out to that 30-year period.”

Population growth is also an area of focus. “You have to design your transport network with how you’re building your communities and how people want to live,” says Walker.

He says the growth in road freight over the last decade has been a surprise.

“For the period between 2009 to 2017, there was a 32% increase of freight movement on the network. The prediction is that it is probably going to be an increase of 40% over the next 30 years. That extra impact on the network does have a large impact on our payments and servicing.”

Walker says improving freight connections is one of the government’s strategic priorities. “The state highways make up about 15% of the New Zealand roading network, but 70% of freight is carried on those roads.”

Brett Aldridge

Waka Kotahi
COO regulatory services

Aldridge says as the land transport regulator, Waka Kotahi is shifting its focus from prescriptive compliance to a safety system with a view on outcomes. Transport businesses are operating in increasingly complex environments while trying to remain safe and profitable while providing an essential service to New Zealand.

“And while safety is paramount, there are always going to be things that we can’t tolerate – where we, as a regulator, have got to step in,” he says.

“We are seeking to better understand the pressures that are out there.”

Between 2020 and 2021, there were 5072 deaths and serious injuries on New Zealand roads. Of these, 540 were transport service operator-related.

“Driver factors contribute to most of the deaths and serious injuries in the past few years. And we know many of those can be prevented. The good news is vehicle failure appears to be relatively low.”

Aldridge says driving under the influence of alcohol and other substances is way over representative in these statistics. “Alcohol is by far their largest offending factor among commercial drivers, followed by speed and distraction through use of mobile phones.

“We know that fatigue is a huge issue and that it’s underreported. We know the reactions of a fatigued driver are comparable to one under the influence of alcohol.”

Aldridge says one of the Road to Zero goals is to ensure businesses treat road safety as a critical health and safety issue. “There are significant opportunities to encourage businesses throughout the supply chain to take ownership of road safety issues, to strengthen the regulatory framework, commercial transport services, and to promote the uptake of safer vehicles.

“We know that industries that are healthy and thriving have much more ability to focus on increasing safety and dealing with these issues. But we know businesses and sectors are struggling to survive. The ability to make balanced decisions becomes more difficult when survival is at stake. And we know the commercial transport sector gets squeezed and squeezed between suppliers and consumers.”

He says the organisations and industry groups cannot do it in silos. “I can only see this happening through partnership, through participation, trust, understanding collaboration, openness, and honesty, and through using industry bodies that represent you and working together with those in commercial transport.”

Bruce O’Brien

New Zealand Police
Assistant commissioner

As part of its role in the Road to Zero strategy, the New Zealand Police is focusing on a prevention, intervention, and enforcement framework, says O’Brien.

The police is working with community providers on prevention to ensure young people are getting the right licenses and training. “We’re working with industry because we know there’s a lot of skills that sit within the industry around training people to the right standards,” he says.

Regarding intervention, O’Brien says: “We know that there are some operators who won’t comply. We work with them through our commercial vehicle safety teams to ensure that we’ve got the best opportunity to change some of those behaviours.”

That leads to enforcement. “When we don’t see those behaviour changes, that’s when enforcement comes in. These bad behaviours can have tragic and fatal consequences, so we need to ensure that there’s a deterrent factor in there as well.”

O’Brien says it isn’t only high-risk drivers who are represented in injury and death roading statistics. The focus for the police centres on the contributing factors to death and serious injury, including restraints, impairment with drugs and alcohol, distraction – primarily cellphones – and speed.

He says poor behaviour of other drivers around heavy motor vehicles is one of the biggest complaints from the sector, especially on motorways around Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.