Industry responds to Four Corners critique on safety

Peak bodies emphasise focus on safety improvements and the progress made

Industry responds to Four Corners critique on safety
Four Corners program on trucking industry provokes debate

Peak transport and logistics bodies have reiterated the broad industry’s focus on safety following a critical Four Corners report on its shortcomings.

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) has reiterated its call for chain of responsibility to be extended to include maintenance while the Australian Logistics Council points to development of national regulations while defending its position on abolishing the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT).

"The ATA and its members have called on governments to extend the chain of responsibility concept to vehicle maintenance," Simon states.

"This would compel businesses and executives to take reasonable steps to ensure that trucks are maintained properly; for example, by ensuring that maintenance staff have adequate budgets, resources and training."

He also reiterates his call for a national databases of coronial recommendations about road safety and serious heavy vehicle accidents and notes that, while more needs to be done, the trucking industry had come a long way on improving its safety.

"Statistics from Australia’s leading truck insurer, NTI, show the rate of serious crashes per thousand trucks and trailers improved 42.7 per cent between 2003 and 2011. This is an unprecedented safety result," Simon states.

"More generally, Australia’s road toll has fallen to historic lows. In Victoria and NSW, the road toll last year was the lowest since 1924."

Opponents of the RSRT, who include the Federal Government and the ALC, came in for criticism in the program for refusing to address research that led to the previous government to form the Tribunal or weaknesses in spread of chain of responsibility enforcement.

ALC Managing Director Michael Kilgariff says its "primary concern" with the Tribunal, which is currently being reviewed by the Federal Government, "is that there is significant overlap between it and the Heavy Vehicle National Law which could potentially reduce safety; not enhance it.

"The focus of industry and governments needs to be implementing a single set of practical, coherent and effective laws aimed at improving driver safety, rather than adding an additional layer of regulation based on remuneration."

And he took aim at the law’s effect on other important regulations.

"In its current form, the Road Safety Remuneration Act prevails over all other laws, including the Heavy Vehicle National Law and Work Health and Safety laws," Kilgariff says.

"This is a recipe for inefficiency, confusion and increased costs, and fundamentally undermines the concept of ‘continuous improvement’ in the heavy vehicle industry.

"For example, the requirement for written contracts in all circumstances, the development of safe driving plans and drug and alcohol policies could create a culture of merely ‘following the award’ rather than creating a culture of continuous improvement in the management of speed and fatigue.

"Instead of imposing another unnecessary layer of regulation on the heavy vehicle industry, ALC believes greater focus needs to be on the implementation of practical schemes to improve safety outcomes, such as the mandatory use of on-board telematics to monitor speed and fatigue."

He adds that the ALC’s support for compulsory telematics reflects its commitment to practical initiatives that improve and maintain safety across the supply chain.

"These initiatives also include industry driven safety codes, such as the National Logistics Safety Code of Practice which was developed to assist industry to comply with their CoR obligations.

"ALC is also working to establish a specialised tanker code as part of the NLSC to assist participants in the fuel supply chain to manage their CoR obligations."

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