NTI in Easter safety call to motorists and industry

As major crash report shows, fatigue features in highly in crash stats

NTI in Easter safety call to motorists and industry
Owen Driscoll and Tony Clark.

Leading truck insurer National Transport Insurance (NTI) has urged the holidaying public to increase its vigilance on roads over the Easter holiday break and the trucking industry to be alert too.

Backing the message up, NTI CEO Tony Clark highlights the findings of the company’s 2015 Major Accident Investigation Report that shows half of all major truck crashes occur on highways.

Clark has particular concerns for urban- and suburban-based holiday-makers who may be unused to the nation’s highways.

"Every year holiday-makers load up the car on Easter Thursday, after a full day of work, and drive for long periods on roads they aren’t necessarily familiar with.  This is a recipe for disaster," he says.

"Fatigue, inappropriate overtaking, lack of visibility through over-loading, and underestimating the road conditions are a dangerous mix during holiday periods, so please take extra care this Easter if you’re on the roads."

Under these circumstances, there is also an onus on the trucking industry to appreciate the altered conditions.

"With greater congestion on our major highways over Easter, NTI urges the thousands of professional drivers to remain acutely aware of conditions and the threat of less experienced road users as they deliver the necessary supplies for the Easter holidays," Clark says.

He recommends motorists keep in mind four tips when sharing the road with trucks this Easter:

  • Don’t cut in: Trucks are heavier than cars, so need more space when stopping.  For example, at 100km/h a truck needs an extra 30m to come to a stop compared to a car travelling at the same speed.
  • Give trucks room to turn: Some trucks need extra room at corners, intersections and roundabouts. Trucks over 7.5m must carry a sign saying "Do Not Overtake Turning Vehicle". This means the truck can legally use two lanes to make their turn, and may need to turn left across your path to turn left.
  • Be aware of blind spots: Remember – if you can’t see the driver’s mirrors, he/she can’t see you!
  • Overtake with care: It takes about 25 seconds to overtake a prime mover on the open road.  That’s a long time if you’re on the wrong side of the road – and even longer if the truck is a B-Double or B-Triple.  Make sure you have the time and clear visibility.

The NTI’s accident report, compiled by its National Truck Accident Research Centre (NTARC), looks into 549 major crash incidents involving the large trucks it insures, with a combined cost of $71.7 million.

"This research is essential to having an in-depth understanding of accident causes and trends within the transport industry," report author and NTI national manager, industry relations Owen Driscoll says. 

"In 2015, we have safer vehicles, safer speeds, safer roads and, generally, more responsible and safer behaviour.  Nonetheless, heavy vehicle crash incidents continue to occur."

Some key stats include:

  • Inappropriate speed for the conditions continued to be the leading cause of serious accidents at 27 per cent, with 73.6 per cent of speed losses resulting in a rollover.
  • Fatigue related accidents increased to 12.8 per cent — the worst result since 2007. Western Australia has the highest proportion of major crashed due to fatigue at 30 per cent
  • Truck fires continued to account for 10.7 per cent of large loss incidents with electrical failure accounting for 68.5 per cent of cabin/engine compartment fires.
  • The worst performing state was Queensland, followed by Western Australia, while Victoria was the best.
  • Reported large losses occurring during an outward journey stands at 67 per cent.
  • The Pacific and Hume Highways in NSW were the worst performing highways.  Queensland’s Bruce Highway showed some improvement.

While the basic figures remain worrying, the report notes the trend reflects "one-third less major crash incidents across the decade [since the first report], and demonstrates a strong result on road safety".

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