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New app to help truck drivers navigate alternate Picton to Christchurch route

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Truck drivers travelling on the alternate Picton to Christchurch route via the Lewis Pass can plan where to stop for rest breaks and fuel, identify trailer swap areas and get information on road conditions, thanks to a new app rolled out by the NZ Transport Agency and Road Transport Association NZ (RTANZ).

‘TruckR’ is a planning tool that has been designed to improve safety and provide journey  information for truck drivers using the alternate route, which has become the main highway since the November 2016 Kaikoura earthquake closed State Highway 1 through Kaikoura.

The app highlights stopping areas suitable for 20-metre trucks, passing lanes, trailer swap areas, one lane bridges, and places with limited cellular coverage along the route, along with petrol stations, food outlets and public toilets.

It also connects to the Transport Agency’s road alert system, giving users up to date information on road works, crashes and road closures.

Truck drivers can open the app and plan their journey before they start or pull over and check information during their journey as the app’s map features can operate without mobile phone coverage. 

TruckR will be trialled by the freight industry for three months, with plans underway to include State Highway 1 along the Kaikoura Coast once it is reopened.

RTANZ representative John Bond has been working with the Transport Agency on the app. He says it will make a real difference to truck drivers negotiating the Alternate Route.

“This app has been designed and tested by truckies, for truckies,” he says.

“Most drivers travelling on the Alternate Route are not familiar with it and as drivers know, you can’t just park a 20-metre truck wherever you want to and it is hard to just stop suddenly, even if you do spot somewhere on your travels.

“This app will let users plan ahead and get the local knowledge they need to make the drive easier and safer.”

TruckR is funded by the Transport Agency and was built by two New Zealand companies, Webtools and Green Signal in partnership, with the Road Transport Association NZ.

The team at Hilton Haulage tested TruckR briefly before the trial started, and Alle Worner, General Manager - People, Safety & Quality, says the app is a great tool for drivers.

“At Hilton Haulage we hold safety and the protection of our people as a core value so the TruckR app is a great tool for us,” she says.

“Although we have been doing a few kms up that road of late, it’s reasonably unchartered territory for our team so having instant and practical information at our fingertips is awesome.”

Transport Agency Journey Manager Lee Wright says TruckR is just one tool from the Alternate Route Truck Crashes/Rollover Prevention Plan that aims to address safety and delays on the Alternate Route as work continues to reopen the SH1 Kaikoura route.

“After the earthquake the South Island’s Truck Crashes/Rollover Prevention Team got together to brainstorm ways of reducing single heavy vehicle rollover crashes on the alternate route,” she says.

“Our aim is to reduce fatal and serious injury crashes and minimise closures and delays for all travellers.

“TruckR is one of many actions from that plan and it is exciting to see the app being trialled by the freight industry.  We are continuously learning as we trial new technology and we want as much feedback as possible to get TruckR just right. If you have ideas to make TruckR better during the trial phase, please let us know.” 

In addition to the plan, the Transport Agency has reviewed and reduced speed limits along the alternate route to make it safer, and has a $60 million improvement package (external link) to improve safety and resilience well underway.

These improvements include guardrails, pull over areas for heavy vehicles, slow vehicle bays and road widening. There is also an increased Police presence on the route this year.

TruckR has been designed for truck drivers and includes freight specific information such as where trailer swap areas are and sites where drivers can park a 25 metre-rig, however anyone can download the app to get journey and safety information about the alternate route.

Additional information

TruckR provides specific safety and journey information for truck drivers travelling on the Alternate Route, including:

  • Food stops, public toilets and truck stops (based on parking a heavy vehicle)
  • Fuel stops (based on the card drivers use)
  • Trailer swaps
  • Accommodation
  • Truck repairs
  • Single lane bridges
  • Passing lanes
  • Stopping bays
  • Cellphone coverage
  • Alternative Route Road Alerts
  • Road Closures
  • Commercial Vehicle Safety Team (CVST)

TruckR is part of a wider Alternate Route Truck Crashes/Rollover Prevention Plan that has been developed by the South Island’s Truck Crashes/Rollover Prevention Team.

The team is made up of representatives from the NZ Transport Agency, Road Transport Forum, NZ Trucking Association, Road Transport Association of NZ, Heavy Haulage, National Road Carriers, NZ Police, Commercial Vehicle Investigation Unit, Transport Agency contractors and consultants, and the North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery alliance.

More info including FAQs on the project page: https://www.nzta.govt.nz/truckr

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