NTARC profiles the state of heavy vehicle crashes

Comprehensive analysis completed of road incidents where insured loss is above $5,000

NTARC profiles the state of heavy vehicle crashes
National director of research Owen Driscoll.


The National Truck Accident Research Centre (NTARC) has released findings of the latest study into heavy vehicle crash incidents in Australia

The analysis continues an ongoing series of investigative research by insurer NTI’s research arm.

NTARC has analysed most heavy motor losses, managed by the insurer, more than $5,000 between 2011 and 2015.

National director of research Owen Driscoll notes that this effort brings together the largest ever study into heavy vehicle incidents across Australia.  

"This analysis reviewed 14,000 incidents where NTI contributed close to $500 million over a five-year period," Driscoll says.

"Of course it will be the precursor to the early-2017 release of the seventh in the series of ‘Major Truck Crash Incidents’ over $50,000, which NTARC publishes biennially.

"Whilst we have not reviewed those incidents ‘off the network’ involving farming, mining and earthmoving sectors, this is the first study where we have independently identified specific state results.

"Furthermore, our research previously has been limited to larger losses and with the focus of this study for generally all on-road losses, the findings are quite interesting.’ Driscoll said.

"In time, a comprehensive research report will be forthcoming, although for now this is a snapshot of the study."

Single vehicle accident made up 44 per cent of reported incidents with the remainder involving individual or multiple third parties.

In single vehicle crashes, the top four predominant causes were identified as:

  • inappropriate speed for the prevailing conditions – 14.4 per cent
  • fatigue influenced crashes – 7.4 per cent
  • mechanical, although the majority related to tyre failure & non accident related fires – 7.2 per cent
  • animal strike – one in seven reported single vehicle accident involve hitting animals, mostly cattle and kangaroos.

In multiple vehicle incidents, which accounts for 56 per cent, it was found:

  • on 68  per cent of the reports, the truck was responsible for the loss, although it was noted that in fatal incidents involving other traffic, the lighter vehicle is usually held to account
  • 34 per cent of the incidents involved the heavy vehicle impacting the rear of the other vehicle
  • 14 per cent where the insured unit struck third parties when changing lanes
  • 11 per cent in cases where the driver of the heavy vehicle failed to give way

In reported losses involving mechanical and vehicle operating issues:

  • tyre failure due to over- or under-inflation, heat, road conditions or defects accounted for 32  per cent of reported incidents with consequential vehicle damage
  • one in five losses on this issue were contributed to truck or trailer fires, with the seat causal factor usually wiring & electrical
  • there is an increasing trend in turntable/ring failure due to incorrect coupling, higher stress factors associated with increased capacity of dog trailers and general maintenance to cover wear and tear. This accounts for 17 per cent of associated mechanical issues
  • losses attributed to brake and steering failure were inconsequential.

Otherwise it was established that:

  • in states such as New South Wales and Victoria, where traffic density is proportionately higher, there were more incidents involving third parties,
  • for example, leading to a crash incident rate of one loss per 37 items insured in NSW, in contrast to the Northern Territory where it was one incident for every 66 items. Average cost of losses in the NT was substantially greater
  • as is the case with the Major Crash studies, most incidents occur on outbound journeys from home base and usually early in the week
  • December was consistently the quietest month, there was no specific month that was noted as any worse than the other.

Regarding the average ages of drivers involved:

  • the oldest come from Queensland and the youngest from the NT
  • overall, nationally, the average age was 45 years 248 days
  • 40 per cent were over the age of 50 years with one in every 4.2 drivers in the study were over 55
  • those under 25 years recorded 4 per cent of losses, not indicative of the quality of their driving but rather indicative of the fact that proportionally this industry does not attract many from this age group.  

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