Don’t let impatience drive you to take risks

With the summer season upon us, it’s never more important to take it easy on the region’s roads, says truckie Grant Wharton.

Grant, who frequently drives throughout the North Island, including along narrow winding roads, says impatient motorists are the biggest road hazard that truck drivers face.

Not easy to stop – Grant Wharton says trucks, like this one he drives, can’t be stopped quickly.

“Every week I have at least one close call, or have to take action to avoid a crash because of some driver who can’t wait until it’s safe to pass.”

The Graeme Wright General Carriers, of Puriri near Thames, says the Coromandel’s roads are often the worst – with other tourist-loving regions, such as the Bay of Plenty, also facing lots of traffic during the summer holidays.

“People don’t realise we know those roads better than they do, and will pull over to let them pass when it’s safe, but many can’t wait.

“They put themselves, the truck drivers and other motorists in danger,” says Grant, who has lost count of the times he’s had to take action to prevent a collision in the last few months, let alone the 25 years that he’s been driving trucks.

Often, it’s the combined evasive actions taken by truckies and on-coming drivers which enables impatient motorists to get past without causing a crash. Grant says it makes him mad others are put in danger and have to pull over, or brake hard, to avoid some idiot who cannot wait.

“I don’t know what the answer is, but I think people have no idea how hard it is to stop a 45 tonne fully-laden truck doing 80 km. We might be able to pull up in 100 to 200 metres, but [the truck] can do a lot of damage to anything in the way in that time.”
Car drivers also don’t seem to realise how risky it is for big trucks to pull too far off the road either – as getting into loose metal or an uneven surface can cause their drivers to lose control.

Motorists can be pretty rude too, says Grant.

“Sometimes, when you do finally have somewhere safe to let them pass, they give you the fingers as they go by. They seem to think we deliberately hold them up, but we don’t. There are some places where we can’t pull over to let them pass.”

Grant’s advice to drivers is – have consideration and respect for all other road users, “and don’t take stupid risks which put their own and others’ lives in danger”.


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