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Hilton Haulage driver Graeme McLaren uses TruckR to plan his trip through the alternate Picton–Christchurch route

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

Truck drivers travelling on the alternate Picton–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 (NZTA) and Road Transport Association NZ (RTANZ).

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‘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 m 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 NZTA’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 is currently being trialled by the freight industry, with plans underway to include State Highway 1 along the Kaikoura coast route once it is reopened.

Easier and safer

RTANZ representative John Bond has been working with the NZTA 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 m 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 has been funded by the NZTA and was built by two New Zealand companies, Webtools and Green Signal in partnership with the RTANZ.

A great tool

The team at Hilton Haulage tested TruckR briefly before the trial started, and Alle Worner, general manager, people, safety and 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 kilometres up that road of late, it’s reasonably uncharted territory for our team, so having instant and practical information at our fingertips is awesome.”

NZTA 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.”

Improvement package underway

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

These improvements include guard rails, pullover areas for heavy vehicles, slow-vehicle bays and road widening. There is also an increased police presence on the route.

While TruckR has been designed for truck drivers, anyone can download the app to get journey and safety information about the alternate route.

The South Island’s truck crashes/rollover prevention team comprises representatives from the NZTA, Road Transport Forum, NZ Trucking Association, RTANZ, Heavy Haulage, National Road Carriers, NZ Police, Commercial Vehicle Investigation Unit, NZTA contractors and consultants, and the North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery alliance.

For further information on the new app, visit www.nzta.govt.nz/traffic-and-travel-information/truckr/


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