Four people were killed in truck crashes in NSW, one in Victoria and one in Western Australia between November 14 and 16. Since the start of October, 26 people have died in truck crashes, including eight truck drivers, highlighting trucking as Australia’s deadliest job.
“In April the Government tore down a road safety watchdog that was holding wealthy retailers and manufacturers to account for safety in their supply chains. We are now seeing the effects of this lack of scrutiny and the effects of the financial pressure they are clearly putting trucking companies and drivers under,” said TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon.
Low cost contracts force transport operators to skip maintenance and lower rates for drivers, forcing them to speed, drive long hours, skip breaks and overload their vehicles. It is also leading to untrained migrant workers driving trucks.
“The Federal Government’s own report released this year shows a system of safe rates, where drivers are paid minimum rates for all their work, would cut truck crashes by 28%*. Still the Government abolished the only system that had the power to examine these problems and replaced it with a few extra speed cameras that tell us what we already know: truck drivers are under too much pressure,” Sheldon added.
In addition to horrific deaths, the high number of truck crashes causes many other problems. On November 15, a truck crash at Mt Ousley in NSW left several people injured with the road closed for many hours. Police have since confirmed a truck involved in the crash had 13 defects.
Sue Posnakidis, whose brother John died in a truck crash in 2010, said: “My brother’s death was not an accident. The driver who crashed into him was inexperienced, fatigued and driving a truck which had faulty brakes. Every time there is another death it pains my family and I because we know these crashes are often avoidable,” she said.
A Safe Work Australia report last month showed truck driving is Australia’s deadliest job with 583 drivers killed between 2003 and 2015. In the 10 years to 2014 over 2,500 people died in truck crashes.