Mr Olsen was speaking after the police conducted a series of raids at Baiada Chicken factories in Tamworth, Griffith and Newcastle today in relation to a fatal collision in Sydney last month. Police inspected 135 heavy vehicles, uncovering five non-compliant engine control modules allowing speeds over the 100km/h limit and issued 60 notices for defects and traffic notices. A man was arrested in Tamworth on an outstanding warrant and a vehicle was de-registered for a major defect.
“We welcome any police crackdown on dodgy operators in the transport industry, but unless you tackle the root causes you are just playing whack-a-mole,” Mr Olsen said.
“Year after year, hundreds of people are killed in truck crashes, police raids keep finding tampered or badly maintained trucks and drivers keep getting squeezed beyond breaking point.
“Instead of only raiding truck yards after fatal crashes, or conducting operations that target truck drivers squeezed by impossible deadlines and relentless pressure, we need to look at the root causes – economic pressure from the big transport clients at the top of the supply chain.
“There is more than two decades of independent research, coroners’ reports and cross-party parliamentary inquiries establishing the link between rates financial pressure on truck drivers and safety on our roads.*
“Many of the systemic problems come down to big transport clients like Coles, Shell and Westpac who pressure drivers and operators to meet unrealistic deadlines and take on more freight for cheaper or risk losing their contracts and the ability to support their families.
Mr Olsen said that instead of protecting Australian truck drivers and everyone who shares the roads with them, Malcolm Turnbull ripped away road safety laws that addressed the link between pay and safety on our roads.**
“Instead of standing with the community and truck drivers, Malcolm Turnbull sided with the big end of town that did not want to pay what it actually costs to safely transport their freight. This will do nothing to stem the deaths, devastation and disaster on our roads,” Mr Olsen said.
*There is more than two decades of research establishing the link between rates of pay and safety on our roads – this was recently fact checked by https://theconversation.com/factcheck-do-better-pay-rates-for-truck-drivers-improve-safety-57639
**In April the Federal Government abolished a road safety tribunal which was looking at the pressure on truck drivers and transport operators to speed, drive long hours, skip breaks, skip maintenance and tamper with speed limiters. It was abolished despite the Government's own reports which showed that truck drivers are 12 times more likely to die than any other profession and that the tribunal would reduce truck crashes by 28 per cent.
In May 17 people were killed in truck crashes across Australia. In April, 24 people were killed in truck crashes and in March 25 people died in truck crashes.
A Safe Work Australia report in July 2015 showed:
- 31% of employers say workers ignore safety rules to get the job done
- 20% accept dangerous behaviour, compared to less than 2% in other industries.
- 20% of transport industry employers break safety rules to meet deadlines – this compares with just 6% of employers in other industries.