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Coroner recommends more training

Published: 6:39PM Wednesday July 30, 2003

The death of an Auckland man has prompted a call for more training for mechanics.

Eddie Tavinor was killed two years ago when part of a driveshaft snapped from a recently-serviced truck and smashed through his windscreen.

An Auckland coroner says technicians who service drive-shafts should be better prepared.

Tavinor would have had little warning of the accident that killed him in November 2000.

The 32-year-old father was driving on Auckland's southern motorway when he was hit by a 14 kilogram universal joint off an oncoming truck.

The truck's drive shaft had disintegrated as the truck headed south. It flew over the median barrier and through the windscreen of Tavinor's ute - killing him instantly.

The Land Transport Safety Authority says the driveshaft failed due to maintenance issues.

Coroner Murray Jamieson's report says the Mitsubishi truck's drive-train had been repaired three times in nine months - the last just 11 days before the accident. The report says mechanics then failed to follow correct procedure reinstalling it and, critically, "those working on the truck...did not notice the driveshaft was worn.. and therefore unsafe".

Jamieson says the mechanics did not have the right training to work on the type of drive-train components they were trying to repair.

Mitsubishi Motors New Zealand says it has already given the drive-shaft training to the mechanics at its dealerships. But it says it can't account for the repair practices at other dealerships or garages.

Spokesman John Leighton says the company has "implemented a specialised training programme...for all 17 of our heavy truck dealers" following the coroner's recommendation that there be more specialised training for technicians in the field.

Mitsubishi will also fit safety hoops around the drive-shaft on all of its new trucks.

But the LTSA says such accidents remain rare.

"We estimate less than 10 drive-shaft failures per year...and trucks are doing more than ten billion kilometres," says spokesman Peter Kippenberger.

He says he would now like to see that number reduced significantly, in light of the coroner's findings.

Police declined to charge anyone over the accident.

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