Light vehicles drive major truck accident rate says NTARC

By: Cobey Bartels and Rob McKay

The 2017 Major Accident Investigation Report will reveal that they were to blame in 93 per cent of heavy vehicle crash fatalities

Light vehicles drive major truck accident rate says NTARC
Expensive truck crash causes are highlighted in this year's NTARC report


National industry affairs manager at National Transport Insurance (NTI), Owen Driscoll, provided an insight at this year’s Trucking Australia conference into the soon-to-be-released 2017 Major Accident Investigation Report by the National Truck Insurance’s National Truck Accident Research Centre (NTARC).

The findings nationally were little changed from the last report two years ago, with inappropriate speed for the conditions still the leading cause of crashes costing more than $50,000, the traditional base line of the statistics.

But Driscoll, who was honoured with a Transport Icon of the Industry at 2015 National Road Transport Hall of Fame Reunion in 2015, has deep concerns that fatigue-related crashes at 12.2 per cent of the total were at their worst in a decade.

Another alarming statistic is that while 51 per cent of multi-vehicle crashes were down to the heavy vehicle, 93 per cent of major crash fatalities were down to errors by the lighter vehicle.

"Shocking, shocking result from this last report as far as third parties and who is at fault," Driscoll says, while also raising concerns about young women drivers.

Non-impact truck and trailer fires remain a concern and Driscoll highlighted that these account for one in 11 major claim incidents, with 65 percent caused by a fire in the cabin/engine bay region.

Noting that it was a strong agenda item for authorities and the NTI at the end of the last decade, Driscoll believes what is needed now is to "refocus on fatigue … without reinventing the wheel, which I think is happening a little at the moment".

Driscoll believes more should be done to tackle the role and awareness of motorists regarding driving behaviour around trucks.

Livestock incidents increased to 10.2 per cent of reported incidences and the main accident finding involving ancillary operations was inappropriate speed for the conditions with Graziers responsible for 27 percent of major losses.

Also underlined was the prevalence of outbound legs to feature in crashes, at 67.4 per cent.

Though mechanical failure weighed in at 3.2 per cent, Driscoll issued a warning about the increasing incidence of tyre failure, at 19.5 per cent of the time, due to over- or under-inflation, road conditions, defects and other reasons. This was topped only by turntable and hoist failure at 27.8 per cent, due to incorrect coupling and wear and tear.

Wheel security and bearing failure were the next major issue, at 13.4 per cent.

As far as highways and roads are concerned, the Victorian section of the Hume Highway came out on top as best highway, while NSW’s Pacific Highway was the worst in the nation.

The Bruce Highway in Queensland wasn’t far behind the Pacific, with one of the largest increases in incidents for in recent years.

Driscoll discussed the reality that the midnight to dawn period is when the majority of fatigue accidents do occur.

"As we say from a risk management perspective … if you don’t have to work through the night, don’t be a hero, it’s a waste of time.

"There’s no point turning up to get unloaded at five o'clock in the morning if they’re not going to unload you until nine o'clock … think seriously about operating guys through the night, park them up."

The 2017 Major Accident Investigation Report is due to be published in the coming months.

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