22 Mar 2019

NZTA offers Northland drivers immunity if they will talk

12:45 pm on 22 March 2019

The Transport Agency wants to talk to drivers working for a Whangārei trucking firm whose fleet has been ordered off the road for safety breaches.

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There are problems with the culture at Stan Semenoff Logging, the Transport Agency says. Photo: Supplied

Stan Semenoff Logging is due to have its service licence revoked at midnight for failing to make its drivers take rest breaks and drive under the speed limit.

The company, which is Northland's biggest transport operator, is taking court action to defer the order.

Agency spokesman Steve Haszard said the company's drivers were not filling in their log-books properly, were not taking their rest breaks and were commonly doing speeds in the high 90s.

"Bearing in mind that the legal limit for the trucks is 90km, it's not unusual to see speeds of 95km and upwards and on tight and winding Northland roads that's obviously an issue."

Almost all heavy vehicle crashes are caused by driver error, and most of the errors are down to driver fatigue, Mr Haszard said.

Other Northland trucking companies had also been involved in accidents and rollovers, he said.

"Stan Semenoff Logging is not alone in that but it has failed over a number of years to try to improve. They are either unable or unwilling to put in these basic compliance features and that's extremely concerning."

Stan Semenoff.

Stan Semenoff at his yard. Photo: RNZ / Lois Williams

While a number of Stan Semenoff's drivers had been brought in from the Philippines, Mr Haszard said they had to achieve the same licence standards as anyone else and they were not the issue.

"The problem is the culture of the company that employs them," he said.

"We are more than happy to talk to all those drivers about why they feel they need to drive over the speed limit, and why it is they're not taking their rest breaks.

"We understand the complexities; that they're here sometimes on work and visitor permits and we're happy to offer immunity [from compliance action] to those workers to come and talk to us."

The Transport Agency was trying to contact the Semenoff drivers through First Union, Mr Haszard said.

Stan Semenoff said his company will appeal against the revoking of its license, and would go to court in Whangarei today to ask for a stay of the order.

His logging trucks would be on the road today as usual.