Road Transport Forum News

 
The best part of my job

The best part of my job

Road Transport Forum News

 October 2019    RTF News

Recently I spent some time in Rotorua and Gisborne, meeting with operators. I particularly enjoyed riding in the cab with Dick – a log truck driver for Seymour Transport Services – from Gisborne to Tolaga Bay.

It was a great opportunity to have a chat about the challenges he faces every day out on the road.

It was also fantastic to meet with operations manager Carla Seymour, who is an impressive young leader in the industry, with a real focus on doing right by her drivers.

Since I began this role late last year, one of the most enjoyable aspects has been the time I have spent going around the country meeting with people like Dick and Carla.

I figure that if I am to accurately reflect the concerns of our industry to politicians, government officials and other key stakeholders, it's really important I know what our association members are thinking and the kind of issues that are important to them.

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Recently I spent some time in Rotorua and Gisborne, meeting with operators. I particularly enjoyed riding in the cab with Dick – a log truck driver for Seymour Transport Services – from Gisborne to Tolaga Bay.
It was a great opportunity to have a chat about the challenges he faces every day out on the road.
It was also fantastic to meet with operations manager Carla Seymour, who is an impressive young leader in the industry, with a real focus on doing right by her drivers.
Since I began this role late last year, one of the most enjoyable aspects has been the time I have spent going around the country meeting with people like Dick and Carla.
I figure that if I am to accurately reflect the concerns of our industry to politicians, government officials and other key stakeholders, it's really important I know what our association members are thinking and the kind of issues that are important to them.
No matter where I go, whether it's to visit an operator in the Auckland metro area or a regional operator like Seymour's there are real anxieties about the condition and ongoing maintenance of our roads. This is a nationwide problem and it's something RTF continues to reflect to the New Zealand Transport Agency and government ministers at every opportunity.
Road user charges, like petrol excise, are increasing – but operators aren't seeing any evidence of it being spent on the roads…which they need to complete the freight task. Money that should be used on roads is being siphoned off for political gain to cycleways and rail – or not spent at all.
Operators are concerned about the internal issues at the NZTA and RTF maintains a close eye on that. However members are more interested in how these issues impact their businesses, rather than the minutiae of how government departments operate. The management of contracts for both local roads and state highways, and the delay in fixing defects remain annoying to many operators.
There is also significant concern about the NZTA's approach to the auditing process and a belief that there is no clear rationale as to why particular TSL holders have been targeted. The RTF has engaged with NZTA on these matters and we will stay on the case.
Operators are finding that getting the right staff requires more reasonable immigration pathways, so drivers from countries such as the Philippines can be guaranteed a longterm career and a settled lifestyle in NZ.
They're also keen to employ more local young people, but are finding it difficult to source staff who can pass pre-employment drug testing.
The other key message from operators and drivers is that the emphasis on road safety needs to be broader than just a focus on speed. Professional drivers see distraction as a huge problem. Whether it's car drivers blatantly using mobile phones, or other general distractions inside the vehicle, truckies are seeing little policing of it.
The other big threats to safety – alcohol and drug abuse – are, of course, still there. Legalising recreational marijuana use and the impact that will have on safety-sensitive businesses such as road transport, given the lack of any regulatory regime for road safety, is of serious concern.
RTF will continue to be your advocate on these issues in Wellington. I will also continue to visit and meet with operators, so if you would like me to come and chat with you and your team about what's going on with regard to some of the issues discussed above, please let me know and hopefully we will be able to arrange something for the near future.


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