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NZ Post defends rising injuries, crashes involving buggies

Author
Newstalk ZB, NZ Herald,
Section
National,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 2 January 2019, 8:34a.m.
NZ Post workers have received 80 injuries involving the Paxster delivery carts this year. (Photo / File)

NZ Post's "Paxster" delivery buggies have crashed 249 times during 2018, with the electric golf carts hitting vehicles, banging into fences or road signs and injuring posties.

Postal workers have also been injured 80 times while operating the Norwegian four-wheel vehicle - more than double the 36 injuries reported in 2017.

But NZ Post says the severity of the injuries are much less than those sustained on a bicycle based on its declining injury costs and the increase in crashes is due to more Paxsters being in use.

Figures received under the Official Information Act show the total 156 injuries since mid-2016, only two of the injuries were considered as being serious and needed professional medical treatment. The drivers were injured when the Paxsters collided with other motor vehicles.

Other injuries included whiplash, banging their head on top of the Paxster or hurting their knees when they rammed the front panel after being jolted from behind. Posties also got bitten by dogs, complained of general discomfort from operating it or were hurt after slipping and tripping as they got in and out of them.

A NZ Post spokesperson defended the significant increase in buggies crashing this year, saying it coincides with the rise in the number of Paxsters on the streets.

However 58 per cent of Paxsters crashed in 2018 compared to 23 per cent in the previous year.

"With an excess of 400 Paxsters currently in operation, this represents approximately 800,000 plus exposure hours annually across New Zealand," a spokesperson said.

Of the 249 crashes this year, 129 occurred when buggies collided into objects or equipment. This included Paxsters reversing into power poles, fences, letter boxes, scraping hanging branches and driving into objects such as boulders, wheelie bins and other obstacles as they veer onto driveways, footpaths and grass verges.

The remaining 94 were due to a Paxster hit or being hit by a vehicle, while 26 were due to them banging into property such as road signs or letter boxes.

Only one member of the public has been injured since 2016 when they were hit when a Paxster reversed into them and knocked them over. The person was treated in hospital for a fracture.

Postal Workers Union of Aotearoa spokesman John Maynard said his members' biggest concerns were hitting a child scootering or riding on a driveway, or colliding with a reversing car.

"You're driving on the footpath, it's silent, it's like a plastic bubble coming towards you.

"If you are on a bicycle you can get out of the way much quicker. If you are on one of these things it's a bit more difficult to get out of the way."

Maynard told Tim Dower the number of incidents is a bad look.

"The company might show there's a reduction in the number of injuries, but there is only a third of the number of Paxsters on the road as there were bicycles."

Maynard said Paxsters could only be driven on the roads in Norway, which would reduce the number of hazards faced with coming out a driveway, or have them colliding with the small telegraph ports coming out of the ground.

Living Streets Aotearoa president Andy Smith said the organisation had always objected to Paxsters operating on the footpath, and the lack of flashing lights or bells to warn people they were coming.

"Rolling out vehicles on the footpath is not a good idea."

Paxsters have an exemption from the New Zealand Transport Agency - section 2.13(1) of the Land Transport (Road User) Rule 2004 - allowing the vehicles to be driven on footpath.

NZ Post previously revealed it had invested $15m on a national roll-out of the golf cart-style delivery vehicles that can reach speeds of up to 45km/h.

Injuries to NZ Post staff involving paxsters

2016 - 40

2017 - 36

2018 - 80

Crashes involving NZ Post buggies since they were introduced in 2016

2016 - 35

2017 - 82

2018 - 249

* 2018 figures from January to 10 December

LISTEN TO JOHN MAYNARD TALK TO TIM DOWER ABOVE

ON AIR: Larry Williams Drive

4p.m. - 7p.m.