Truck drivers often don’t see the cyclists they kill

All commercial vehicles should be fitted with surround-view cameras that give the driver a 360° view of the road around them, says the car review website

Editor Clive Matthew-Wilson, who is an outspoken road safety campaigner, says truck drivers are often completely unaware that they’ve just killed an innocent cyclist.

“Many truck drivers can’t see what’s going on around them. In 2021, you still see signs on the back of trucks saying: ‘If you can’t see my mirrors, I can’t see you’.”

“It’s completely unacceptable that many truck drivers are effectively blind to what’s going on around them:”

“‘Bird’s eye’ camera technology, which gives the driver an overhead view and which can eliminate blindspots around commercial vehicles, has been available for a decade. The only reason it’s not fitted to many vehicles in New Zealand is because the government has not made it compulsory. And so innocent road users continue to die unnecessarily.”

“European studies have shown that one quarter of the people killed by trucks are either pedestrians or cyclists. That’s simply shocking.”

Matthew-Wilson adds that the government has done very little about preventing exhausted drivers getting behind the wheels of trucks.

“In 2019, a major report exposed how tired truck drivers often were. The government did virtually nothing.”

A second report, in 2021, said the same thing. Again, these revelations appear to have been ignored by the government.”

Matthew-Wilson says the trucking industry has been built around cheap labour, often with tragic consequences. 

“For years the trucking industry has been talking about a shortage of drivers. This is nonsense. There has never been a shortage of drivers. There is a shortage of drivers prepared to work long hours for low pay.”

“Before Covid closed the borders, many trucking companies deliberately employed cheap immigrant labour as a way of keeping wages down. The wages paid were often so low that many of these immigrants also worked as Uber drivers after hours. There have been a number of serious accidents linked to this. I had a taxi driver fall asleep at the lights while driving me home. When I woke him up he confessed he was also driving a truck during the day, because he needed the money to feed his family overseas.”

“Border restrictions have stopped the flow of cheap labour, so the trucking industry has been forced to advertise for New Zealanders, but their top rate is $30 an hour, before tax. That’s the top rate, not the beginning rate, which is about the same as semi-skilled builders’ labourers are often paid. To earn enough to even put a deposit on a cheap house in Auckland, many drivers will have to work long and unsafe hours. This greatly increases the risk of serious accidents, often involving totally innocent road users.”

Matthew-Wilson places the blame squarely on the government.

“The government has to get tough with trucking companies that exploit tired workers. The government also has to ensure that it’s not possible to get away with drivers working long hours and faking logbooks.”

“In addition, the government must require all commercial vehicles to install technology that eliminates blind-spots. Bird’s eye cameras can be retrofitted to any existing vehicle at very reasonable cost. I desmonstrated a retrofit bird’s eye camera system to NZTA several years ago. Since then, NZTA has done basically nothing towards getting this technology fitted to the nation’s commercial vehicle fleet.”

“It would be perfectly possible to have 100% of commercial vehicles fitted with 360° cameras within a couple of years. All it requires is for the government to get off its backside and do something about the problem.”



• Clive Matthew-Wilson has been actively campaigning on road safety and consumer issues for 25 years. Mentored by engineer Chris Coxon (former technical chair and founding member of the Australian New Car Assessment Program – ANCAP), Matthew-Wilson was the first person to publish crash test results in New Zealand. His research into seatbelt upgrades was awarded by the Australian Police Journal. Matthew-Wilson is a strong supporter of pedestrians’ and cyclists’ rights and has helped shape many major road safety policies in New Zealand.

Clive Matthew-Wilson was the founder of