We need action on road safety, ATA demands

Peak trucking lobby demands concerted action to improve road safety following release of latest heavy vehicle fatal crash stats

January 29, 2010

The nation’s peak trucking lobby is demanding concerted action to improve road safety following the release of the latest heavy vehicle fatal crash statistics.

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) wants the National Road Safety Council to produce a long list of measures such as cutting speed limits to reduce road carnage and driver mistakes.

Figures from the Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport released yesterday show a sustained 11.5 percent increase in the number of heavy rigid fatal crashes per year over the three years to June 2009.

"When it meets next Wednesday, the National Road Safety Council will need to propose an integrated package of measures to reduce the road toll, including better roads, separating long distance and local traffic, and even reducing speed limits in urban areas where cars interact with turning trucks," ATA Chairman Trevor Martyn says.

"For the industry’s part, trucking companies and our customers need to build their businesses around safety, with systems to make sure that drivers are fit for duty and have realistic schedules."

With 241 people dying from the 221 heavy vehicle crashes from June 2008 to June 2009, Martyn says politicians also need to do more.

"To reduce the number of crashes on the roads, governments, police and the industry need to go beyond blaming drivers and calling on them to show personal responsibility," he says.

"Instead we need to build roads and systems around drivers to help reduce the number of mistakes they make and minimise the consequences of accidents when they occur."

Martyn says targeted road enforcement must continue, but it needs to be recognised that drivers will always make mistakes regardless of the number of advertising campaigns shown and what penalties are imposed.

According to the BITRE, fatal accidents involving articulated heavy vehicles from June 2008 to June 2009 fell 18.6 percent.

The fall coincided with an average 5 percent decrease in incidents per year for the three years to June 2009.

Martyn says the findings prove articulated truck operations are becoming safer due to better roads, safer vehicles, chain of responsibility laws and higher professionalism shown by drivers and operators.

But the 91 deaths from 88 crashes involving heavy rigids pushed up the vehicle’s involvement in fatal crashes by 3.5 percent.

Although the number of heavy rigid fatal crashes in Victoria fell from 32 to 14 during the year, the figure in Queensland rose by 75 percent from 12 to 21 and by 91.7 percent in Western Australia from 12 to 23.

Deaths from heavy rigids in Western Australia climbed 84.6 percent from 13 deaths to 24 deaths, while the figure in Queensland rose from 15 to 22.

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