Palmerston North City Council's fleet of 49 trucks, their drivers and support crews, have achieved gold star safety recognition from the Accident Compensation Corporation.
The council's City Enterprises division became the first operator in the city to gain ACC Fleet Saver membership at a brief ceremony at the Albert St depot yesterday.
It joins the ranks of 18 businesses nationwide that have achieved accreditation since the scheme was launched last year.
The scheme aims to help make the roads safer by encouraging and rewarding safety among operators of large, heavy vehicle fleets.
ACC Insurance and Prevention Services regional manager Linda Murphy said while the scheme recognised safety efforts with bronze and silver awards, City Enterprises staff could be proud of joining the first eight around the country to strike gold on the first attempt.
"We know road transport in New Zealand will continue to grow in the next 20 years, and trucks will get bigger.
"We hope with these initiatives to keep the accident rate down as low as possible."
While large, heavy trucks did not crash often, when they did, there were more likely to be fatalities and serious injuries than in other vehicle crashes.
Often, the occupants of the other vehicles involved in a crash with a truck came out worst off.
ACC and Ministry of Transport statistics showed that while trucks made up just 6 per cent of the total kilometres travelled on New Zealand roads, they were involved in 17 per cent of fatal crashes.
The cost of claims from crashes involving trucks accounted for 20 per cent of all motor vehicle related ACC claims costs - about $80 million a year.
City Enterprises general manager Ray McIndoe said the council worked hard to apply best practice safety standards.
The standards included vehicle maintenance, driver training, ergonomics, driver assessment and accident reporting and analysis.
McIndoe said the council's previous work in attaining and keeping its ACC tertiary status in work safety management systems had put it in a strong position in applying for Fleet Saver endorsement.
Most of the requirements were already part of its practices, and had been well documented.
As a Fleet Saver gold member, City Enterprises will save 40 per cent on ACC levies for each truck over 3.5 tonnes. Those savings are $186 a year for each truck - a total annual saving of more than $9000.
McIndoe said the programme's safe driving practices had other benefits on fuel savings and maintenance costs.
The trucks will soon be branded with gold decals endorsing them as "Trucks You Want to be Around".
- Manawatu Standard
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