100 Killed In Truck Crashes Since Turnbull Tore Down Road Safety Watchdog

Release date: 5/12/2016

TWU Media Release, 5 December 2016
The death toll in truck crashes has reached 100 since the Federal Government in April scrapped a road safety watchdog which was investigating the pressures on truck drivers that lead to safety risks.

The Government tore down the watchdog despite its own reports showing it would reduced truck crashes by 28% and acknowledging the link between safety and fair rates of pay for drivers.
Evidence now shows that the vast majority of those opposing the watchdog were trucking companies, not owner drivers. At a hearing at the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal in Easter, 24 of the 26 oral submissions against an order setting safe minimum rates were from fleet owners.
“It is sickening to see Malcolm Turnbull and Michaelia Cash boasting about abolishing the tribunal when so many have lost their lives in truck crashes. The tribunal was doing what no other body is tasked to do: holding wealthy retailers and manufacturers to account for safety in their supply chains. There is now no incentive for these clients to stop their deadly squeeze on transport and to end their low cost contracts,” said TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon.
A tow truck driver died in a head on collision with a road train in Western Australia yesterday while an 18-year-old pedestrian died after being hit by a truck in New South Wales early yesterday.
Apart from the deaths since April 18th there have been hundreds of other truck crashes which have caused injuries and road closures. Police blitzes of trucks across the country have detected multiple serious defects while a number of trucking companies have been raided for poorly maintained trucks and driver visa breaches.
“My condolences go out to the family and friends left devastated by these recent tragedies, which have yet to be fully investigated,” said Sheldon.
“Last April this Government prioritised politics over people’s lives. It supported the campaign by trucking companies which, because of financial pressure from clients, do not want to pay drivers safe fair rates of pay. The Government do not care that drivers are most likely to die at work than any other profession; they do not care about the appalling rates of pay that force them to drive long hours, speed and skip mandatory rest breaks; they do not care about the trauma being caused to the community from horrific truck crashes,” Sheldon added.
Sue Posnakidis, whose brother John died in a truck crash in 2010, said it saddened her that the families of 100 people have been left devastated since the Government turned its back on a solution to the problem. “My brother’s death was not an accident. The driver who crashed into him was inexperienced, fatigued and driving a truck which had faulty brakes. Every time there is another death it pains my family and I because we know these crashes are often avoidable,” she said.
Owner driver Frank Black said drivers were continuing to campaign for safe fair rates. “We will never give up fighting our right to be safe at work and to earn a decent living,” he added.
A Safe Work Australia report last month showed truck driving is Australia’s deadliest job with 583 drivers killed between 2003 and 2015. In the 10 years to 2014 over 2,500 people died in truck crashes.

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