Fonterra hails effort to combat rollovers

Milk transport manager calls on heavy vehicle companies and drivers to install electronic stability controls

By Ruza Zivkusic | October 25, 2010

The death of a contractor in a truck rollover accident prompted Fonterra Australia’s National Milk Transport Manager Tony Miller to seek to put an end to crashes.

And he has succeeded so far after installing electronic stability controls in 75 trucks five years ago.

The control, which is a computerised technology that improves the safety of a vehicle’s stability by detecting and minimising skids, has kept the trucks from rolling over on hilly roads throughout Victoria and Tasmania while drivers collect milk from 1,500 farmers.

Miller is calling on every company and driver of heavy vehicles that haven’t installed such a system to do so as the cost of $3,000 per truck is a small price to pay in saving lives.

"People that are operating in very hilly terrain and that have a liquid load on board wether it be milk or oil, should install it," Miller says.

"Any company that sees themselves being in a danger zone for having a lot of potential rollover accidents should definitely be investigating in rollover stability systems."

Rollovers were reduced by 75 percent following the instalment, with one in 30 milk tanker previously ending up in a crash.

There has been none due to technical faults following the instalment but Miller says he is educating the drivers about fatigue, driver distractions and medical conditions that also cause crashes.

A rollover costs about $250,000, exclusive of any driver-health issues.

His drivers’ morale was boosted since the change, he adds.

"There is a strong sense of satisfaction in knowing we were one of the early adopters of the technology; there is a sense of pride for the whole company and the safety statistics we’ve got within our transport fleet have been extremely pleasing.

It became compulsory three years ago for his contractors to install such equipment.

Another eight trailers will be fitted with the system in the coming 18 months, he says.

The Truck Rollover Prevention Program was launched by VicRoads in March.

It originated as an education program to target truck crashes prevalent in Victoria’s Gippsland area, initially targeting industry sectors including logging and dairy.

Before the program, there were 16 rollover crashes in the area every six months. This has been reduced to none, it says.

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