According to news reports, the 17-year-old boy suffered fatal injuries after the car he was driving collided with a semi-trailer on Andromeda Drive at Cranebrook, around 3:30pm on Monday February 8. This is the fourth death in truck crashes over the past week.
“My condolences go to the family and friends affected by this tragedy, which is yet to be fully investigated. We know that a deadly cycle is at play in transport with major retailers and manufacturers squeezing transport operators and drivers with low cost contracts to the point that our roads are not safe,” said TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon.
“When drivers and transport companies aren’t paid enough they are put under economic pressure to skip breaks, speed, drive for longer hours with overloaded vehicles in a stressed and tired state,” he said.
Sheldon called for a national auditing, education and industrial rights fund paid into by all employers along the supply chain in sectors with high rates of fatalities. The fund would ensure companies are meeting safety obligations and that those at the top of supply chains are being held to account for work carried out for them. The fund would also educate employers on their obligations while training drivers on safety and their rights at work.
“This fund is important in holding companies to account over safety. At the moment it is the rest of the community which is bearing the brunt of the loss of loved ones and the economic cost of truck crashes,” he said.
A survey* of truck drivers shows around half of truck drivers work almost one day a week in unpaid waiting time. Over half of drivers who own their own trucks say they have had to forgo vehicle maintenance because of the need to keep working or the high cost of repairs. Almost 40% of drivers said they felt pressure to drive longer than legally allowed because of demands from the client.
Around 330 people are killed each year nationally in truck-related crashes. This is the reason trucking is Australia’s deadliest profession, with drivers 15 times more like to die than any other profession.
Employers, governments and employee groups at the United Nations labour body, the International Labour Organization, in October 2015 backed a plan based on the Safe Rates model to tackle unfair and unsafe remuneration as the root causes of the high global death toll in trucking.
*Survey of truck drivers carried out by the Transport Workers’ Union and published in 2012