Cyclist’s Intentional Collision with Truck Reveals Driver’s Log Violations
Carl Zander, who regularly drove between Nelson and Christchurch, was both punished and granted a reprieve by a judge who noted the cyclist’s death was a suicide.
Judge Richard Russell also said other road users relied heavily on lorry drivers to stick to rules about when they were allowed on the road.
Zander, 33, admitted charges in Nelson District Court today that he made false statements in a logbook and exceeded driving hours.
On November 22 last year, Zander was driving a heavy truck south of Wakefield – about 20km south of Nelson – en route to Christchurch on a regular overnight run, when he was involved in a collision deadly with a cyclist.
The police prosecutor declared the event a suicide.
The ensuing investigation took into account the category of vehicle which requires legal compliance with working hours and entries in the logbook. It revealed that Zander had disguised work time overruns as rest on several occasions and had falsely recorded continuous work time for a single period in which he had traveled 848 kilometers on difficult and demanding roads at night.
Police said their explanation was that he “liked to go straight to Christchurch because they were cooking him a meal”. He said he often stops on the way back, but usually no more than 30 minutes, thinking maybe it was “smart”.
Zander was not currently working as a driver, the court heard.
Justice Russell said the purpose of the legislation was to ensure that commercial truck drivers are off the road for several months following such breaches of the law. He noted that Zander had been off the road for months following the collision with the cyclist, which was not his fault.
“Your lawyer did a very good job putting together the circumstances that arose following this horrific incident where a cyclist committed suicide while crashing into your truck.
“Your fault was falsifying the logbooks.
Judge Russell said other road users rely on truck drivers to be alert, fit and properly able to drive.
“The consequences if you get it wrong are serious, but I accept that the results of the incident were profound and that you received guidance,” Judge Russell said.
He said part of that was to help Zander get back behind the wheel, and while he didn’t want to interfere with that, he also didn’t want to interfere with the integrity of the legislation.
Zander was found guilty and fined $600 and ordered to pay court costs. He was banned from driving for a month, retroactive to January 1 this year, which Judge Russell said meant he was now free to drive.
-By Tracy Neal
Multimedia Journalist Open Justice