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Trucking rest stop plea to parliamentary inquiry

ATA and NatRoad spotlight infrastructure, safety tech and education needs

 

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) and National Road Transport Association (Natroad) have made their cases to Joint Select Committee on Road Safety, with better rest stops a key theme of their submissions.

The inquiry is probing the impact of road trauma and how to support the Australian Parliament’s resolve to reduce incidents on roads. 

ATA chief of staff Bill McKinley emphasises the need for consistent, mandatory standards for truck rest areas for the benefit of drivers.

“We still need consistent standards for building rest areas, including basic amenities like toilets, water and shade,” McKinley says.  

“The road is a truck driver’s workplace; they deserve to have access to facilities like any other worker.”

McKinley notes some progress is being made on rest areas but more is needed. 

“In our submission, we noted that rest areas on Australia’s major highways were not eligible for funding under the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program,” he says. 

“Under round seven of the program, announced in March, those rest areas can now be funded.” 

McKinley also highlighs the need to accelerate the uptake of proven safety technologies. 

“If implemented with an extension of mandatory electronic stability control to new rigid trucks, mandating autonomous emergency braking would save 102 lives and prevent 2,564 serious injuries on our roads,” he says.  

“The ATA supports a vision zero target. Every road user should be able to get home safely, every day. 

“We need safer roads, safer vehicles, better safety systems and better information to link it all together.”

ATA’s submission also addresses the “overwhelming” number of certification and customer audits, spruiking the credentials of its TruckSafe accreditation program.

“TruckSafe certification is an assurance for everyone that trucking businesses are safe, but there are two government certification schemes and many industry customers insist on doing their own safety audits too,” McKinley says. 


How the ATA put its payment case forward to a senate committee, here


Meanwhile, NatRoad’s submission focuses on three key policy areas:

  • improved data and information about causes, trends and patterns of incidents
  • appropriate infrastructure, including heavy vehicle rest areas
  • education for light vehicle drivers on driving around heavy vehicles.

Represented by compliance and workplace advisor Richard Calver, NatRoad calls for better research relating to the causes of heavy vehicle crashes and key factors with identifying trends and patterns.

“We have very good data that comes out of the National Truck Accident Research Centre which is privately funded.

“That data needs to be supplemented by a range of other information, that shows trends, patterns and causes over time.  

“One of the ways to get better data and a better understanding of heavy vehicle incidents is as we indicated in the written submission: to expand the role of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau so that it has the function of investigating incidents involving heavy vehicles. 

“These must be no-fault investigations.

“It is NatRoad policy that a dedicated authority such as the Australian Transport Safety Bureau be given power to promptly and fully investigate serious heavy vehicle accidents and to share the results and recommendations publicly so that all industry participants can take the appropriate action to reduce the road toll.

“That role should also encompass better research on trends and causal factors and should be linked to the work done by other agencies, such as the Office of Road Safety and the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE).”

Like the ATA, NatRoad stresses the importance of heavy vehicle rest areas and says they should be included as a pre-condition in tenders for new infrastructure. 

“These rest areas are an integral component of proper fatigue management for heavy vehicle drivers.

“The management of fatigue through practical steps to assist the industry via rest areas with appropriate facilities is one way to assist to reduce fatigue-related incidents.”

NatRoad also reiterates the need for further education of light vehicle drivers on how to drive around heavy vehicles. 

“We reiterate the message that improved learner driver education about how to share the road safely must be a core element of improving road safety.

“One aspect of a Safe System is to examine interactions between all types of road users and the interaction between light and heavy vehicle drivers needs to be framed by reference to concerted education about the behaviour of heavy vehicles and the do’s and don’ts like not overtaking a turning truck or cutting in front, especially on high speed roads.”

 

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