Mitsubishi Motors’ New Zealand operation says the country’s truck industry needs to heed a coroner’s recommendation that its mechanics be given training on the full requirement for servicing and repairing heavy vehicle driveshafts, the New Zealand Press Association (NZPA) reported.
The recommendation by Auckland coroner Murray Jamieson follows an inquest in December into the death of a man who died instantly when part of an on-coming truck’s driveshaft smashed through the windscreen of his pickup truck on Auckland’s southern motorway in November 2000.
Work had been done on the truck’s gearbox at Mitsubishi Motors-owned Roadlife Trucks in Auckland 11 days before the accident. Jamieson found in a decision released on Wednesday that the man died of head and neck injuries after being struck by part of a truck driveshaft that had disintegrated when one of its bearings failed.
In a statement, also on Wednesday Mitsubishi Motors New Zealand Ltd (MMNZ) managing director John Leighton said the company had already implemented all the coroner’s recommendations.
It had also put in place a number of other initiatives as a direct result of the accident and the issues it highlighted.
“The industry as a whole should take heed of the coroner’s findings and do all that is possible to prevent a similar tragedy occurring again,” Leighton said.
“The vast majority of trucks in New Zealand are serviced outside of the Mitsubishi dealer network and outside of the other franchise dealerships. We hope that the other distributors and repairers also take a comprehensive approach to this issue.”
Since the accident, Mitsubishi had implemented a specialised training programme for all 17 heavy commercial truck dealers within the Mitsubishi Motors dealer network covering servicing and maintenance of driveshafts.
In total, 147 dealer personnel had been instructed on the correct procedures for the maintenance and checking of driveshafts fitted to Mitsubishi products, he said.
Immediately after the accident MMNZ had checked all Mitsubishi vehicles known to be of the same configuration as the truck involved in the accident to ensure there was no excessive wear.
As an additional safety measure, Mitsubishi now installed a hoop around the driveshafts of all new Mitsubishi trucks.
At the December inquest, the main mechanic for the job, Aaron White, defended his work, but said he had not been trained in the maintenance of the type of driveshaft involved, NZPA said.