YOUR SAY: Negligent drivers should be accountable

This trucking owner's had enough of negligent drivers. He believes they should be held accountable for damaging vehicles

K&S Freighters has been criticised by the Transport Workers Union for holding drivers accountable for negligently damaging vehicles. A trucking operator provides his thoughts on driver liability.

It’s a pity that your ATN poll question "Should trucking companies charge drivers for damaging vehicles?" is straight out of Yes Minister.

A better question would have been "Should trucking companies charge drivers for negligently damaging vehicles" that way would have garnered a better participation and a result more in keeping with what the industry is sick and tired of in terms of a driver’s piss poor attitude.

My business is currently pursuing a driver (no longer with us) for "burning out a new clutch by trying to take off with the park brake applied".

Of course, the truck wouldn’t move but the driver still persisted with building up the revs to "overcome the problem". The prime mover with attached trailer was not loaded at the time.

It stands out like the proverbial dog’s balls that if a truck won’t go then there is something wrong and you don’t take you foot off the clutch and smoke the whole depot out!

Not only has this idiot ruined the clutch ($4,800) but it has cost the business two days down time whilst it was off the road.

Whilst the idiot is relatively new to semis (12 months) he has been driving the 14 pallet rigid trucks for some years. He has been trained by a professional truck driving school as well as working his way up from MR to HC.

The company policy is to get a driver to contribute to the cost of the damage they caused if it was by negligence. Most of our drivers who break things on the truck automatically replace them if they are at fault – without being asked to. These are the "old school drivers" who take ownership of ‘their’ vehicle and know if they stuffed up.

If a driver contests the analysis provided by either the insurance company, the police or the other drivers then we won’t press for payment or even a contribution. If it is a major accident and the police book our driver then we ask the driver to make a contribution to the insurance excess.

We don’t set an amount as we are more interested in the driver’s attitude to other road users, the vehicle he drives the company and to himself.

In the same way as we won’t pay speeding fines or red light camera fines, we want to instil in the driver that they have to take responsibility for their own actions.

My company is not the welfare state that the country has become. We want our employees to understand that there are no free lunches and that they have to be conservative on the road.


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