Speed errors top NTI accident list as fatigue plummets

Report for 2009 shows B-doubles are increasingly safer than semis

By Rob McKay | April 14, 2011

Inappropriate speed for the conditions remains the leading cause of truck accidents, National Transport Insurance’s (NTI) latest crash report shows, and that particular problem is growing.

Building on a series of reports released every two years since 2002 by the NTI’s National Truck Accident Research Centre, the latest Major Accident Investigation Report showed speed errors causing 31 percent of accidents, particularly when changing direction.

The percentage for the 2007 study was 27.4.

The report into 323 major crashes that cost the industry $44 million in 2009 had mixed news but much of it was very promising.

Though there was a 1 percent fall in major incidents reported for the 2007 period, the average financial loss per incident rose 6.2 percent to $136,472.

On the positive side, the report confirms a trend towards fewer major crashes per 1,000 units between a high in 2005 to 2009.

Serious truck crashes due to fatigue have fallen 50 percent since the last study and, since 2002, the frequency has decreased 27 percent.

"It’s quite an amazing result," the NTI’s National Manager, Industry Relations, and author of the study, Owen Driscoll, says.

He believes the focus on fatigue between 2006 and 2008 and the heightened awareness of the issues were coming to fruition in the figures.

Meanwhile, bigger trucks were seen to be safer, with B-doubles carrying 46 percent of freight yet accounting for only 28 percent of serious truck crashes.

By contrast, semi-trailers were over-represented, being involved in 60.1 percent of such incidents when responsible for only 38 percent of the articulated freight task - a rise of 2.6 percent in crashes despite a 3.2 percent fall freight carried compared with 2007.

While National Highway 1 witnessed on in six serious crashes in 2007, that had increased to one in four in 2009.

In another signal to the Queensland and Federal governments, while National Highway 1 witnessed on in six serious crashes in 2007, that had increased to one in four in 2009 and the Bruce and Warrego highways in the state were the worst with proportionally more incidents than any other major roads.

The NTI says it has used the research to establish a new panel of experts to address safety issues within the road transport industry, with more details to be released after Easter.

"The panel will independently study the findings from the research and submit recommendations to road safety authorities annually," Driscoll says.

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