Truck fatalities rise as government questions road toll commitment

New statistics show increase in articulated truck fatalities, raising doubts government will meet its committment to reduce road toll

By Brad Gardner

Truck fatalities have increased amid a jump in the road toll, raising doubts over whether governments will meet their commitment to reducing death rates.

The Bureau for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics latest statistical summary shows there were 172 articulated truck fatalities last year compared with 168 deaths in 2006.

This is despite the fact there were more fatal crashes in 2006 than 2007. According to the Road Deaths Australia 2007 Statistical Summary report, articulated trucks were involved in 142 fatal crashes in 2007 compared with 144 the previous year.

The overall 1.1 percent increase in fatalities means the governmental commitment to reduce the road toll to 5.6 percent per 100,000 Australians by 2010 "is unlikely to be achieved", according to Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Anthony Albanese.

However, Albanese says the Government’s $70 million heavy vehicle package to build rest areas, upgrade roads and establish a road safety action plan will help reduce road carnage.

"We are determined to recapture the momentum of the 80s and 90s so even fewer families have to experience the grief caused by a loved on becoming yet another road statistic," Albanese says.

Although truck fatality rates have fluctuated since 1983, the report shows deaths increased by one based on 1997 and 2007 figures. Articulated truck fatalities peaked at 208 in 2000 and hit 200 in 2002.

However, the five-year trend shows a marked decrease in fatality rates. Deaths fell by 28 between 2002 and 2007, according to the report.

Of the 1,616 road crashes, 10 percent involved articulated trucks. This, combined with overall fatalities, pushed the road deaths rate for 2007 up to 7.7 percent per 100,000 Australians.

The report says the majority of truck accidents involved another vehicle while 13 percent involved a pedestrian.

While the road toll has shown a steady decline the last 30 years, the report notes a significant increase in a number of jurisdictions, including the Northern Territory which jumped 33.3 per cent.

Western Australia’s fatality numbers also increased 15.8 percent. However, fatality rates in Tasmania, NSW and Victoria dropped.

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