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Driving a truck or tow truck

Updated: 26 February 2013

You and your drivers have a number of legal and other responsibilities in providing a safe and effective transport service. These include ensuring that drivers are licensed, are fit to drive and follow traffic rules. Encouraging your drivers to regularly check their vehicles and report faults immediately, and manage their wellbeing will not only help to ensure their safety but also the smooth running of your business.

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Legal responsibilities

Being licensed

Every truck driver must be licensed and hold a current and valid licence for the class of truck they are driving.

As a transport service licence holder, you can also access TORO (the Transport Organisation Register Online) to:

  • check that those driving your vehicles are licensed to do so
  • monitor your drivers' licence status.

Truck drivers

New Zealand has four licence classes for heavy vehicles. Drivers need to hold the right class for the vehicle they drive. Find out more about truck driver licence classes. Special vehicle endorsements may also be required for special type vehicles including forklifts, bulldozers and trams and those that run on rollers or self-laying tracks.

Tow-truck (vehicle recovery) drivers

Find out more about the licence classes required by tow-truck drivers. A vehicle recovery (V) endorsement is also required. Find out more.

Drivers transporting dangerous or hazardous goods

In most situations, drivers transporting dangerous or hazardous goods (including when towing vehicles that are transporting dangerous goods) require a dangerous goods (D) endorsement on their driver licences. Find out more.

Complying with traffic rules

Drivers are required to comply with the traffic laws, most of which are explained in the the Road code and local bylaws, whenever they are driving.

A number of penalties apply to drivers found to be breaking the traffic rules, including vehicle impoundment.

Work time and logbooks

By law, most truck and tow-truck drivers have a maximum number of hours they can work.

Find out more about work time and logbook requirements.

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Driver responsibilities

Drivers have a number of responsibilities and obligations. These include:

Holding a correct and valid driver licence

Drivers need to have the correct driver licence and licence endorsement, and renew their licence and/or endorsement on time (allowing enough time for us to process the renewals before their current licence and/or endorsement expires).

Being fit for duty

Drivers are responsible for coming to work 'fit for duty'. Factors that can affect wellbeing and fitness for work include:

  • having a second job
  • undertaking recreational and sporting activities
  • not having enough sleep
  • experiencing stressful situations
  • consuming alcohol/other drugs or medication
  • coping with the demands of family and relationships
  • experiencing changes to their normal routines
  • issues with their personal health.

Medical and health conditions can also affect the ability to think quickly and clearly, and undertake the physical components of their jobs. Find out more about medical requirements and fitness to drive.

Driving a safe vehicle

Drivers are responsible for checking their vehicles, making sure they are safe to use and reporting any faults to the fleet or vehicle controller.

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Being a safe and courteous driver

Professional drivers should always:

  • be safe and courteous
  • obey the road rules
  • understand that others make mistakes
  • be tolerant
  • set an example to others.

This also applies away from work.

Checking vehicles before use

Drivers should do a simple pre-use 'walk-around' check before they drive any vehicle.

This will help to ensure that the vehicle is safe to operate and enable you to identify the need for, and schedule, repairs and maintenance - reducing the need to deal with unexpected breakdowns. That could also mean long-term savings for your business.

Read our guide to pre-use checks for heavy vehicles.

Reporting vehicle faults

Best practice fleet management includes a system for drivers to report any vehicle faults they find, and a process for advising drivers on what happens about the reported faults. Make sure you have a vehicle fault reporting and resolution system in your business.

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Identifying and preventing fatigue

Fatigue is identified as a hazard in the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 (external link).

The Act defines a hazardous situation as:

  • a situation where a person's behaviour may be an actual or potential cause or source of harm to the person or another person; and
  • a situation described in (a) resulting from physical or mental fatigue, drugs, alcohol, traumatic shock, or another temporary condition that affects a person's behaviour.

Find out more about identifying and preventing driver fatigue.

Investing in driver training

No matter how sophisticated a vehicle's technology, driver behaviour is the most crucial factor in avoiding crashes.

You can improve safety for your drivers and other road users by investing in driver training - so they know how to use their vehicles and have a good understanding of your expectations of their behaviour while driving.

Find out more about the driver training options available through Tranzqual, the training organisation for the road transport industry.

Ensuring workplace safety

Under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992, a work-related vehicle is considered part of the workplace. This means that the health and safety rules applying to the workplace also apply to work-related motor vehicles.

See the Department of Labour's guide to the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992.

How we can help

Call our contact centre for advice on and help with complying with all transport-related rules, regulations, and vehicle standards and requirements.

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