Pallas tackles issues at Freight 2011 launch

Pallas highlights challenge of increasing driver shortages and need for "noise cameras" for trucks on local streets

By Rob McKay | October 21, 2010

Victorian Roads Minister Tim Pallas highlighted the challenge of increasing driver shortages amongst issues of major concern for the trucking industry at last night’s launch of Freight 2011.

At the launch, hosted by the Victorian Transport Association (VTA) and the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC), Pallas noted that by 2026 the current truck driver cohort of 41,600 drivers would be 65 years old or more.

"So, when you combine that ageing of the workforce with growing freight volumes, we’ll need 60,000 new drivers by 2026 - just 15 years away," Pallas says.

The State Government was looking at how to fast-track heavy vehicle licensing for younger drivers and had received advice on risk factors from the Department of Transport (DoT), VicRoads and the VTA.

Pallas acknowledged greater progress needed to be made on higher productivity freight vehicles, despite P&O Trans Australia being allowed to operate at 77 tonnes on the trial network and Kalari at 77.5 tonnes in the south-west Green Triangle region.

He admitted an obstacle to the use of more efficient trucks was local government shortcomings over the "last kilometre".

"A web-based information portal is now available online through the DoT website," he says.

"It’s designed to help local government in particular with the challenges that longer B-doubles and vehicles operating under performance based standards can present to city and shire engineers rightfully concerned for larger vehicles using local roads."

VTA CEO Phil Lovel teased from the Minister that he was looking at ways to tackle truck breakdowns on freeways to help reduce the congestion caused in the rest of the road network.

One idea was to have the Transport Safety Services arm of VicRoads visit companies whose trucks have broken down.

Expressing the hope that his government would be returned after the upcoming election and that he would remain roads minister, Pallas reiterated again his position that community acceptance was integral to road freight reform.

He outlined a trade-off whereby the industry would accept truck noise reduction, such as "noise cameras" and right-lane bans.

"I can’t advocate for road freight if I can’t assure the community that we as a government are doing everything we can to make the roads as safe as possible for road users," he says.

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