Improving vehicles is a key aspect in achieving better safety outcomes on ou roads. This video from Transport for London highlights what they’re doing to make trucks safer on city streets.

The new design appears to be a huge improvement, begging the question of why it has taken so long and how long till authorities in this country start to push for these kinds of improvements to the truck fleet.

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  1. Yeah, nah. Just get as many of them off the road as possible. I’m fed up with being mowed by trucks, car carriers and cranes. I realise that personal experience is not a great basis for policy (OK, it’s crap) but most of the other cyclists I speak to have the same experience. Better vision won’t improve poor driving skills, impatience and fatigue.
    Sorry to be grumpy but really, we need to be shifting more goods by rail.

    1. Trucks are probably staying longer than cars, they provide a very useful economic function.

      Instead of making this a truck vs cyclists/pedestrians argument, lets make it a traditional truck vs innovative truck argument, with safer trucks becoming the norm. Hopefully key cities (starting with London) will introduce these requirements (maybe they could use dawned rules, ie any truck purchased after now has to comply at first) and thus companies will focus on building these, such that it becomes the norm nearly everywhere.

  2. Marketing? Perhaps the truck market relies on the big butch road warrior image. A bit like those awfully sad ute ads we have in NZ. All tough, male and dumb.

  3. In order to really get focused on reducing road deaths we have to have a national policy of moving more freight by rail and investing accordingly.

    A note to the Minister of Transport ……………Plan and invest for this outcome and discount the ‘Truck Lobby’!

  4. I agree with the above comments, the technology may be better, but there is still the human (tending macho) factor, and they are just massive machines that can do serious damage. When the science says that rail is the way to move freight, there is no argument. Unless you are one of the hopelessly ignorants currently occupying the beehive. Trains, trains, trains, they are the answer to all the questions!

    1. Can you point us in the direction of the Science that says rail is the way to move Freight?

      Especially applied to New Zealand where freight movements within the confines of either major island take less than one day.

    2. Matthew take a look at the tittle “Making Trucks Safer in Cities” like it or not trucks will always move freight within cities.
      Rail freight is only efficient for bulk (outside of coal and logs, New Zealand doesn’t have sufficient bulk) freight going from a single point to anther single point a great distance (greater than anything New Zealand has), smaller amounts going to and from multiple points over relatively short distances (like almost anywhere in this country) is far more efficient to be transported on trucks.

        1. Ask anyone that moves freight why they use trucks. Moving freight by truck is the most expensive way (with the exception of air) and all modes require a truck and at least one point, freight moved by truck is twice as quick (in general from point to point) as rail and FMCGs don’t have the time to sit in rail yards or on trains.

          1. So…are we to understand that your definition of effciency is speed?

            “all modes require a truck and at least one point”
            You are mistaken. I know of several door-to-door rail operations in the Upper North Island – no doubt there are others and there would be more had private sidings not been removed.
            Ask anyone that moves freight by rail why they use trains.

          2. There are no rail sidings into the back of retail shops, farms, forests or the majority of factories so yes everything is on a truck at some stage in the distribution cycle.

          3. I shall ask the question again since you seem to be avoiding it: What is your definition of efficiency?
            In engineering and the sciences efficiency is almost always energy efficiency and on that basis your claim that trucking is “far more efficient” is demonstrably false, so if you have an alternative definition of efficiency let’s see it.

          4. No its not. Efficiency means the point where you can’t make one better off without making another worse off. It is matter of welfare not energy.


            Actually making one worse to gain improvements in another is not efficient.

            ie me digging the CRL by hand for free could be considered efficient under your definition as to improve time you need to increase expense.

            You are thinking of Pareto Efficiency which identifies all possible efficient options, but not the most efficient


          6. MFD if you can transport from pick up point to delivery point in a fraction the time it takes by rail, often in little more time than it takes to transfer to and from the rails (not even including the time the railways have possession) makes it more efficient to not use rail. The fixing of Neilson st Onehunga will go along way to helping to make rail transport more efficient but it will take far more than that to get much more freight off the road.

          7. There are multiple definitions of efficiency, hence my (repeated) request to have it defined.

            You’re not going to argue that economics is a science, are you?

          8. It’s the dismal science 😉 Energy efficiency is just a subset. What matters is overall welfare of humankind. Energy use is simply a part of that. Who cares if something has a smaller difference between energy in and energy out if achieving that costs so much we end up worse off? In terms of rail for freight well of course we could use rail more, we could have a rule that any freight going more than 40km has to be carried by rail. The problem is history showed that didn’t work out very well when we had it in the 70’s. In part because of the triple handing of goods and in part because the monopoly of rail results in everyone getting shafted.

          9. “What matters is overall welfare of humankind.”

            So…Oh dismal scientist, what are the units of measurement of this effiency metric of yours, this metric of humankind welfare? 😉

            Bigted seems to be arguing from a binary perspective; all trucking efficient, all rail inefficent. Railfreight is cost effective for those that use it and while energy efficiency is a subset it is going to get a whole lot more important as the realities of signing the Paris accord start to take effect. Maybe getting your goods a day earlier in exchange for tripling or quadrupling greenhouse gas and PM10 emissions and adding to the danger of those currently using the roads is for the overall welfare of humanity. I am unconvinced so let’s see the data, Bigted (with units of measurement included, please).

          10. MFD, can you point out where I said “all trucking efficient, all rail inefficent”? For rail freight to be efficient there needs to be bulk amounts going from one single point to another some distance away, the bigger the bulk the more efficient it becomes to move relativity short distances like Metro port to POT and vice versa. There are other examples like coal, milk powder from dairy company to an export port and logs from collection points near forests to ports but the bulk of New Zealands freight movements are from multiple places to multiple places a relatively short distance away. The more pick up or delivery points a single unit (be it train, truck or ship) the more efficient the truck becomes and the more inefficient trains and ships become.

            Can you go back and reread the title to this blog “Making Trucks Safer in Cities”, cities are short distance movements that will almost all be done by truck.

          11. “Rail freight is only efficient for bulk (outside of coal and logs, New Zealand doesn’t have sufficient bulk) freight going from a single point to anther single point a great distance (greater than anything New Zealand has)”

            So you have stated that it is only “efficient” for bulk freight going greater distances than NZ has. That really seems to state that in the NZ context rail freight is not efficient….and yet I know of recent new daily rail freight shipments entirely within the Auckland region (a distance of no more than 40 km) involving no trucking at all. The decision was made to use rail rather than trucks. Should I tell the company concerned that according to you they are wrong?

            Let’s turn to another of you statements: “smaller amounts going to and from multiple points over relatively short distances (like almost anywhere in this country) is far more efficient to be transported on trucks.” That may well be factual, so can we have some figures to support your claim please? Actual efficency figures with references.

          12. Glenbrook steel mill to the port is one of the few exceptions due to the bulk going from one single point to another single point.

          13. Since you mention the Glenbrook steel mill let’s throw in a few more short-distance rail examples that refute your claims:

            Glenbrook-Otahuhu Billet
            Huntly- Glenbrook Coal
            Otorohanga-Glenbrook Lime

            That’s for just one company and, according to your claims, all inefficent and slower than using trucks.

            Now this unwillingness of yours to provide data makes me think that maybe, just maybe, your claims are just a litle bit…made up…a bit like this porky from the Road Transport Forum website (presented as “transport facts): ‘Rail, which is best suited to hauling bulk items 300 kilometres or more, is less fuel and cost efficient over such relatively short distances”.

            You’re not involved with the trucking industry, are you Bigted?

        1. Fonterra is also the biggest customer of one of the largest refrigerated transport companies in the country and they do not allow their freight to be moved by rail due to the time it takes.

          1. “Fonterra is more than just milk powder.”
            “they do not allow their freight to be moved by rail due to the time it takes.”

            As you can see, even though the first statement is true, the second one is still not true, and in fact the supressed premise that ‘Fonterra ships milk powder by train, but’ directly contradicts the second statement.

          2. Sailor Boy they do not allow their chilled goods to be moved by rail other than in exceptional circumstances. You need to beg to get permission to rail chilled goods from Auckland to Christchurch due to the travel time difference (50 hours via rail 18 hours via road), they very rarely allow chilled freight to travel on rail within an island.

          3. Ok, so you simply made a typing error before.

            I agree, time critical goods will always go by truck or air. I don’t accept that anywhere near the majority of our freight is time critical.

          4. Not a typing error, it would be safe to assume that when the comment was in reference to a refrigerated transport company that the freight they are transporting is refrigerated.

          5. Not true, Fonterra process milk in Taranaki that is moved by rail from the Hawkes Bay and Wairarapa. Finished products are then moved by rail to Mt Maunganui for export.

          6. Being as I actually work on that (ocean not land, but with landside transport constraints).
            Reefer’s are a special case.
            Fonterra move plenty of dry containers by rail.

            Reefers are a special case because of the “time off power” limitations.
            As long as the trip is short enough (typically ~6 hours, including loading and unloading) it can go by rail.

            The “fix” would be rail units with onboard power generation to extend the travel time capability.

          7. Archie the Takanini Fonterra plant bottles milk and produces yhogurt and other chilled dairy products for local supply, everything out of Takanini is distributed nationally by refrigerated road transport (trucks). When the Takanini bottling facility is closed for maintenance bottled milk (two to three loads per day) and the Christmas cream supplies for Auckland come via trucks from Kapiti. Export products (ie milk powder) are produced in plants that have rail sidings for ease of transport to the port of Tauranga for export.

            Roger metro port (ports of Tauranga) have gen sets they put on the MP rail units for refrigerated containers so it can be done, Fonterra will not allow their local refrigerated freight to be transported by rail (outside exceptional circumstances) due to the time it takes to get to the consumer.Also note 6 hours loading to unloading (away from shore power being only on the train then off again) would get you (from Auckland) to Tauranga at a stretch and with pick up to delivery (Auckland to Tauranga) being a little over two hours by road, why would you use rail for such short distances?

          8. “being a little over two hours by road”

            I’m currently looking at a document that says 2 hours average from Bombay to Tauranga on the fastest route.

            Trucks take longer, and Bombay is literally the boundary of Auckland now.

          9. @Bigted, well exactly.

            You have to ADD power to the rail units, which has a cost and a limited supply, and you have to round trip it.

            And if the rail isn’t going to the door, you’ve still got the unload / load to truck / transport to destination delays.
            That’s the old efficiency vs flexibility issue.

            I remember when Mainfreight bought out Carotrans in the USA.
            They gave them a major competitive advantage simply by providing them with ONE truck on the west coast to complement the rail services.

            And you wouldn’t go Auckland to Tauranga for most Fonterra shipping.
            VOCCs like to use Tauranga over Auckland so they don’t ship the containers around the entire NZ coast before departing the country, but putting anything from outside Auckland through MetroPort makes minimal sense if you can get it there directly.
            Port capacity constaints, rail capacity constraints, etc permitting of course.

    3. “Trains, trains, trains, they are the answer to all the questions!”

      trains aren’t the answer to the question “how do you get a load of timber/gib board etc from a builders supply yard to an apartment building being built of Hobson St?”

      seriously, look at the title “Making Trucks safer in Cities” how do trains address any of the issues in the video?

    1. Scott you may want to reread the story in your link, it does not say they will be banning trucks.

      “By January 2020, those with a zero rating – primarily construction trucks with a high cab and big clearance under the wheels – will be banned. By 2024, only trucks rated three stars – “good” – or above will be allowed in the city.”

      That is not a ban of trucks and will not reduce the number of trucks (it could even increase them if smaller trucks are required) it is only giving a rating system to trucks and no allowing certain ones.

  5. Excellent video – highlighting the role of sensible and good thoughtful design.

    It would be interesting to do a similar exercise in NZ, with the sort of trucks we use here. Generally, round town, we may have similar flat nosed “cab-over” trucks to these shown in the vid, but with our role as a 3rd world supplier of logs to China, we have a preponderance of Kenworth / Mack / Peterbilt USA-style conventional large-nosed behemoths – I love driving them, but their outlook of pedestrian and cycle road users is awful. In Napier, and other places, these trucks are on the main highway every day, and have to (or chose to) drive right through the centre of town, endangering anyone in their path if they don’t keep clear. How can we get Mack to redesign their trucks to be more driver/pedestrian friendly?

    1. surely this preponderance of long nose boneted trucks is a purchasing issue, there are plenty of European cab over trucks that would do the job just as well, not to mention cab over Kenworths

      I do think that this s a bit of misplaced cowboy mystique

  6. Maybe NZ can get there in 30 years. In the meanwhile can we get anti intrusion bars on the sides of trucks and trailers that have been compulsory in Europe for 25 years? You can see them clearly on the trucks above

    1. Hell no! That’s extra weight to carry so less payload. Can’t mess with trucking efficiencies…and in NZ it would probably only save a few lives and serious injuries.

      1. 50 Kgs of Aluminium per truck so each truck can load 50kg less of timber. That’s 0.50 $ per truck per trip so yeah worth a few lives.

  7. I wish trucks had to pay the full cost of the damage they do to the roads. Then we would know the true cost of using trucks and what is truly efficient.

    1. Exactly. That’s what I always think of when I see people referring to the “efficiency” of intercity trucking.

      Rail transport is required to pay for 100% of its running infrastructure while tax payers heavily subsidise the motorways that trucks run on.

      Yet this is almost never acknowledged.

  8. I expect the size of cabs to reduce in height with the introduction of EVs as they won’t have a big honking engine they need to sit on. I think we will see the big rigs doing long haul on main motorways and open roads and the majority of trucks that interact with public on city streets will be EVs naturally due to their lower cost to run.

  9. Complementing safer design would be getting large trucks off suburban streets where possible. They are an uneccesary menace on The Drive (i.e. city to Onehunga / Airport) and Kepa and Ngapipi Roads (i.e. South and East to Port). Perhaps Waterview will go some way to solve this problem.

  10. I saw a weird Ritchie’s bus this morning, it had the cab of a truck at the front, very similar to the truck with poor visibility in the video.

    1. The ones I’ve seen are N series Izuzu’s, I’m not sure if it a cost or availability decision but are becoming more common.

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