PHOTO: TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon is urging the federal government to back a ruling by the road safety watchdog. (ABC News: Tom Oriti)
The Transport Workers Union said nine fatalities involving trucks since the start of March had highlighted the importance of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal.
The tribunal was established in 2012 and handed down a ruling in December 2015 which, for the first time, set national minimum payments for certain contractor drivers in the road transport industry.
It comes into effect on April 4, and the TWU said it would ensure drivers are not put under pressure to meet unrealistic deadlines and forced to speed, drive long hours and skip maintenance on their trucks.
The union is planning to travel to Canberra next week to press the case for a focus on truck deaths.
TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon said families were suffering.
"My condolences go out to the families and friends torn apart after the deaths of these nine loved ones," he said.
"I am calling on the Government to take road safety seriously and back this ruling.
"These rates are minimum safe rates, they will ensure drivers get paid for all the work they do."
Three of the nine truck related fatalities this month occurred in New South Wales, including two in the Newcastle region this week.
A man died in an accident between a car and a truck at Beresfield yesterday, while another man died in a head on collision with a truck at Williamtown on Tuesday.
TWU Newcastle secretary Mick Forbes said it was further evidence of how dangerous the road transport industry was.
"No doubt there would be investigations being conducted and we are looking forward to finding out what the causes of those incidents were," he said.
"Obviously we will continue lobbying Government to ensure the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal is not swept away by the big end of town, and so we can keep making sure road safety is paramount and it is being improved."
Mr Forbes said while the circumstances of the accidents were still under investigation, there was no denying the pressures on truck drivers.
"It's devastating when anyone is killed as well as those who survive the tragedies," he said.
"As for the causes of these tragedies we're not sure of the details at this point, but we are absolutely certain of the undue pressure on drivers to meet deadlines.
"As a result of trying to meet those deadlines there are often accidents and some of those accidents lead to fatalities."
The TWU also wants a national auditing, education and industrial rights fund paid into by all employers along the transport supply chain.
The fund would ensure companies met safety obligations and that those at the top of supply chains were held to account for work carried out for them.
Australian truck-related fatalities in March 2016
- NSW, 9 Mar 2016: A man was killed after a head-on collision between his car and a truck on Anderson Drive at Beresfield.
- WA, 8 Mar 2016: A 64-year-old truck driver was killed when his prime mover hit a tree and caught fire on Albany Highway in Tenterden.
- NSW, 8 Mar 2016: A man died after his car and a truck crashed on Tomago Road in Williamtown.
- NSW, 7 Mar 2016: A man died after a head-on crash between his van and a truck on the Pacific Highway at Cooperabung.
- SA, 5 Mar 2016: A 47-year-old man and a 44-year-old woman, who were both truck drivers, were killed when their truck hit a guardrail and burst into flames on the Eyre Highway near Port Augusta.
- VIC, 5 Mar 2016: A truck driver was killed when his truck hit a tree on the Western Freeway in Darley.
- WA, 4 Mar 2016: Two 25-year-old men died when their motorcycle crashed with a truck on McCombe Road in Halifax.
- VIC, 3 Mar 2016: Two people, a female sedan driver and a male truck driver, died when their vehicles collided head-on on Latrobe Road in Maryvale.
- VIC, 1 Mar 2016: A female truck driver died after being pinned under her truck that rolled at a worksite on the South Gippsland Highway in Nyora.
Source: Transport Workers Union