SARTA chief hits out at government under-investment in speed reforms

By: Jason Whittaker


South Australia Road Transport Association (SARTA) Chief Executive Steve Shearer has blasted governments for delaying the implementation of speed reforms,

South Australia Road Transport Association (SARTA) Chief Executive Steve Shearer has blasted governments for delaying the implementation of speed reforms, saying under-investment will jeopardise new fatigue regulations due to come into force in September.

In a letter to Australia’s transport and police ministers, Shearer says the implementation of speed laws is being delayed because governments are limiting the amount of resources available for the reform process.

He says governments must devote more resources to heavy vehicle speed reforms so they can be introduced alongside new fatigue laws or risk undermining the effectiveness of fatigue reforms.

Shearer says without introducing both laws simultaneously, sections of the trucking industry will disregard speed limits to compensate for stricter driving hours that come under fatigue management regulations.

"Fatigue/driving hours and speed are two sides of the same coin; they are both directly and fundamentally about how, and how fast, a truck is able to get from point A to point B," he says.

Shearer, who wrote the letter in his role as chair of the Australian Trucking Association’s (ATA) safety committee, is putting pressure on governments to act immediately.

"We do not believe that a lack of allocated departmental resources is an appropriate reason for governments not to deal with an issue which ministers themselves keep highlighting, and rightly so, as a major road safety issue," he says.

Anything short of concerted action, according to Shearer, will raise questions over how serious the bureaucracy is about safety in the heavy vehicle industry.

"In our view, it is inconsistent for governments and responsible ministers to argue that they are working with the industry to effect key safety reforms, including the fatigue reforms as a key to reducing heavy vehicle accidents, when this would only address half of the problem," he says.

The speed reforms implement a chain of responsibility in that managers, schedulers and customers are required to take reasonable steps to ensure delivery schedules and deadlines do not force drivers to speed.

Although a model speed reform law was agreed upon by all ministers in January, New South Wales will be the only jurisdiction to implement it this year.

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