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Published: 2013-07-04 00:00:00

A new campaign is rolling out across the Waikato this week to create awareness of the ‘elephants’ of the road and reduce the number of near-misses and crashes involving ‘mice’.

Elephant vs Mouse billboard“Trucks are on average four times larger than a car, which is the reason behind the ‘elephant vs mouse’ campaign name,” said Waikato Regional Council’s road safety coordinator, Monique Haines. 

Heavy motor vehicles feature in 20 per cent of the region’s crashes, and in less than half of these the truck is at fault. “Tragically, given the truck’s size and weight these crashes often result in serious injury or death, and in many instances it’s the other motorist,” Mrs Haines said. 

The two-month Waikato Regional Road Safety Education Group campaign is based on the top four messages received through more than 3000 responses from drivers who were surveyed at a truck expo at Mystery Creek in March. 

“We asked truck drivers what they would most like to talk about if they were given the opportunity to have a safety conversation with other motorists. 

“Their number one message for other motorists is to indicate clearly. They would also like them to be more aware of truck dimensions and understand that they need space to manoeuvre on the road. And because trucks are really big and really heavy it’s difficult for them to stop quickly to avoid collisions,” she explained. 

The messages are especially important in the Waikato, a key freight route in the North Island with more heavy commercial vehicle movements per day than any other region in New Zealand. 

Te Kauwhata Transport has been heavily involved in previous regional truck campaigns and is placing some of the ‘elephant vs mouse’ messages on the backs of its trucks. 

“We’re really eager to be part of a campaign which supports our drivers and helps to make the road safer for everyone,” said John McNamara of Te Kauwhata Transport. 

“We’ve supported this campaign from the outset because it recognises that truck drivers are not always at fault in a crash and other motorists need to be more aware of our size and the implications of that on stopping distances and manoeuvrability,” Mr McNamara said. 

The key messages will be advertised on radio, and promoted on the backs of trucks and on large roadside billboards on the main freight routes in Huntly, Tokoroa and Morrinsville. 

The campaign is an initiative of the Waikato Regional Road Safety Education Group led by Waikato Regional Council, working in conjunction with other regional safety stakeholders including the NZ Transport Agency, NZ Police, ACC and councils. 

For more information about the group’s work visit www.reducetherisk.co.nz