Another Tragic Week On Our Roads Highlights Need To Address Lethal Pressures In Trucking

Release date: 16/11/2012

The continuing toll of serious truck crashes on our roads are a tragic reminder of the need to urgently address the dangerous and often life-threatening pressures in road transportation driven by demands from major clients. That’s according to Michael Kaine, Acting National Secretary, of the Transport Workers’ Union.

Michael was speaking after another week of fatal truck crashes across Australia, with three people losing their lives and several others seriously injured.

“The past week has seen a number of serious truck crashes across the country, with media reports indicating three people losing their lives this week alone. The full details of each crash have yet to become clear and our thoughts are first and foremost with the families and loved ones of those involved. These incidents should be investigated not only by State road authorities and coroners, but also by workplace accident investigators, because the roads are a workplace for truck drivers. Every truck crash is a tragedy, but they are made all the more heartbreaking when it’s considered how they may have been avoided.”

“Truck drivers are the backbone of this country, without them the country does not function. Truckies are proud of their role carrying Australia. But driving a truck is the most dangerous job you can do in Australia, with one in three workplace fatalities occurring in trucking. Each year 330 people die and more than 5300 are injured in truck crashes on our roads. This is nothing short of a safety crisis and more than 20 years of cross-party parliamentary reports, coronial and academic findings, as well as testimony from countless truckies themselves, have linked this to pressures from major clients, particularly big retailers.”

“Every day across Australia, truck drivers and transport companies are being pressured to meet unrealistic demands and when truckies are pushed beyond their limits day after day, tragedies happen.

“An ongoing survey of truck drivers by the TWU has shown the pressures that truckies are under every day in Australia and identified major retailer Coles as the most ruthless when it comes to squeezing truckies. Over 80% of truck drivers surveyed carting goods for Coles believe that pressure from Coles causes unsafe practices on our roads. This is pressure to skip breaks, speed and drive while fatigued. Almost half of the drivers surveyed who carted for Coles have been forced to delay vehicle maintenance because of client pressure.”

Michael Kaine concluded, “While it is important for the police and the authorities to target regulatory breaches and dangerous road practices, simply targeting drivers and transport companies alone, while ignoring client pressures, has proven unsuccessful in reducing the rate of fatal accidents on our roads. The Government’s decision to introduce the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal to address these issues is a welcome step, but until such time as everyone across the entire supply chain from the top down accept their role in the safety crisis on our roads then people will continue to die on our roads.

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