Qld action plan requires joint responsibility says Garske

QTA boss says a cultural change will help tackle road safety incidents

Qld action plan requires joint responsibility says Garske
Peter Garske says industry risks can be minimised.


Queensland Trucking Association CEO Peter Garske, who chairs the Heavy Vehicle Safety Working Group (HVSWG) behind the recently-launched Heavy Vehicle Safety Action Plan 2016-18, says the report is "about accepting a very clear responsibility" to reduce heavy vehicle fatalities.

Handpicked to chair the HVSWG by the former Queensland LNP government in the wake of a spate of incidents in 2014, Garske has worked closely with members of the department of transport and main roads (TMR), the Queensland police, Workplace Health & Safety Queensland, and heavy vehicle industry members from the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator to create the two-year plan.

Speaking with ATN in the wake of the report’s release, Garske says poor crash data sparked the government into action, creating the working party and tasking it with creating the report.

"The committee … included a number of key personal from within the TMR safety area and a number of handpicked industry representatives," he says.

"We worked for close to 18 months to get to a point of delivering the document that the minister has released."

Encompassing initiatives covering roads, vehicles, fatigue management, seatbelts, speed, and road users, the report highlights growth areas for government, industry members and the drivers themselves.

Ranging from the use of seatbelts, which Garske says is "one of the great mysteries of life", and fatigue identification technology all the way to opportunities to expand the Queensland police’s roadside drug testing program, the report puts the responsibility on all involved.

"The end goal is to improve road safety outcomes," Garske says.

"It is to improve, reduce, [and] eliminate the number of fatalities that occur in accidents or crashes involving heavy vehicles."

Rather than setting priorities, Garske says the report will be addressed in a holistic approach.

"I think that what we need to do is ensure that we get initiatives moving under all of those action areas," he says.

"I think it is better to look at the broader identified areas."

However, one area Garske is very confident about is the audit on the rest areas across the state.

"In this state, we’ve been fortunate in that Transport and Main Roads has been very proactive in the area of rest areas," Garske says.

"And not only Commonwealth money but also considerable state money over the last five years has gone into a rest area program.

"There is quite a high level of understanding in the department that these facilities have to be built and maintained, and there is a commitment to do exactly that," Garske says.

Industry's role 

In terms of the industry’s responsibilities, the QTA chief says they can be defined as a cultural change, one that has improved but needs more growth.

"I have been in this industry for 20 years, and without a shadow of doubt, operators today are doing much more than they ever did to manage their safety outcomes," he says.

"We have to spread that culture, we have to make sure all levels of the industry accept the challenge and manage it."

That challenge is "about managing risk," Garske says.   

"Moving the freight task, operating trucks on our roads comes with an element of risk, that’s unquestionable.

"Putting a truck on the road is like any other physical activity, it has a risk, might be a different risk to climbing a ladder but a lot of people get killed climbing ladders."

As transport minister Stirling Hinchliffe highlighted last week, Garske says accidents and the resulting fatalities are not always the fault of heavy vehicle drivers but "that’s not a reason to back away or avoid the issue."

"There remains a significant number of crashes involving heavy vehicles and the industry has an obligation to do everything within its power to reduce, if not eliminate, those crashes," he says.

"It is not only about industry participants and drivers; it is about the wider community."

The next step for Garske, his team, and senior governmental officials is to determine the allocation of resources for each initiative. 


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