Police Asked to Widen Hampton Crash Investigation

Release date: 4/04/2014

The Transport Workers Union has today written to the Victorian Police requesting that the investigation into the fatal truck crash in Hampton on March 26, be extended to include the work practices of the retailer Coles.

A copy of the letter to Victorian Police Commissioner Ken Lay is attached.

National Secretary Tony Sheldon said it was understood the truck driver killed in the crash was working in the Coles supply chain at the time of the accident.

“Coles is the poster-child for unfair economic pressure on drivers,” Mr Sheldon said.

“Around Australia we are seeing more and more deaths as a result of speeding, fatigue and poor maintenance – all caused by clients like Coles setting impossible  deadlines and keeping trucks on the road too long.

“A 2012 industry surveys showed 46% of drivers in the Coles supply chain are pressured to skip rest breaks, and 26% are pressured to speed.

“The causes of the Hampton crash are under investigation. It seems likely that fatigue played a part.

“If so, it is important that the Police examine what role was played by Coles or other firms in setting unrealistic delivery deadlines which force drivers to stay behind the wheel for too long.

“We have today asked the Victorian Polcie to widen their investigation into the crash, to include an examination of this issue.

“On behalf of Victorian drivers, we stand ready to assist the Police with evidence of the links between client pressure and the fatal consequences of driver fatigue.”

The 2012 industry survey of Coles supply chain drivers found:
  • 46% of heavy vehicle drivers were pressured to skip rest breaks to meet delivery times;
  • 28% of drivers carried overweight loads in order to deliver goods on time; and
  • 26% of drivers were pressured to speed to meet employer deadlines.

Comments from drivers taking part in the survey include:
  • “I skip brakes maintenance because we don’t have enough hours to complete our work ” (outer Brisbane)
  • “Loads are often overweight but you can’t afford to say no to the job.” (Victoria)
  • “The boss said if we miss the delivery windows we may as well kiss the contract goodbye.” (Tasmania)

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