The spike in deaths in NSW continues with a 92% increase in deaths from articulated trucks in the 12 months to last December, according to the Bureau for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics. Fatal crashes involving trucks increased nationally by 2.4%, involving 168 deaths.
“The statistics are continuing to show there is a grave problem in trucking and people are dying. Yet the Federal Government is refusing to respond. State police are being sent out to catch drivers and trucking companies over breaches but the real issue is not being tackled. Wealthy retailers and manufacturers are putting financial pressure on transport which is causing vehicles to not be maintained and drivers to be pushed to work long hours, speed and skip mandatory rest breaks. Until a system is put in place which holds them to account these deaths will continue to rise,” said TWU acting National Secretary Michael Kaine.
Thousands of defect notices have been issued as part of NSW Operation Shield. Almost 1,000 truck drivers have responded to a TWU survey, saying police operations will not fix the problems in transport and that clients need to be held accountable for the pressure they are put under. Drivers will next week hold a National Day of Action against Aldi, a retailer refusing to take responsibility for safety problems in its supply chain.
“NSW is not only the state with the largest volume of freight, it is also the state many trucks pass through from and to other states. The NSW increase in trucking deaths reveals the problems going on in the wider industry. A state and a national response in addressing the causes of these problems is vital,” said Richard Olsen TWU NSW Branch Secretary.
The Federal Government in April 2016 shut down an independent safety watchdog which was investigating risks to safety in transport and had the power to hold wealthy retailers and manufacturers at the top to account for low cost contracts which put pressure on drivers and trucking operators. The Government’s own report showed the watchdog’s Orders were cutting truck crashes by 28%*.