The survey shows almost 93% of drivers also say pressure on them is continuing or increasing, with drivers listing the financial squeeze from major supermarkets and manufacturers, bad roads, unsafe truck stops and unrealistic deadlines major sources of pressure.
Over 1,000 drivers responded to the survey which was conducted following police blitzes on trucks after a spate of crashes.
The survey comes two years after the Federal Government shut down a road safety watchdog which was investigating safety in trucking and holding major companies to account for low cost contracts which means their goods cannot be delivered safely.
“Two years ago the Federal Government scrapped scrutiny and accountability on the major manufacturers and retailers like Aldi over poor rates in their supply chains. This financial pressure means that trucks are not being maintained and drivers are being pushed to speed, drive long hours and skip mandatory rest breaks. This is devastating families across Australia because of truck crashes and it means drivers are copping all the blame for problems in the industry,” TWU Acting National Secretary Michael Kaine said.
“The only response from the Federal Government to the spike in deaths has been to increase the number of speed cameras to catch drivers and to have police fine them over breaches. This will not solve the problems in the industry and it will not cut the number of crashes. Unless wealthy clients are held to account for low cost contracts the problem in this industry will only worsen,” Kaine added.
The number of people killed in truck crashes is increasing. In NSW there has been a 92% increase in deaths from articulated truck crashes, according to data from Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics. The job for drivers is also getting more dangerous. Safe Work Australia data for 2017 showed almost 40% of all workplace deaths involved a transport worker. Since the road safety watchdog was shut down, 361 people have died in truck crashes.
A report commissioned by the Federal Government showed Orders by the road safety watchdog were cutting truck crashes by 28%.
Hundreds of drivers have held several protests over safety in the industry during the past year, highlighting in particular the role played by wealthy retailer Aldi which refuses to take responsibility for safety problems in its supply chain. Aldi last August began a Federal Court case attacking the right of drivers to speak out and protest about safety in its supply chain.
Aldi drivers have spoken out about breaches of fatigue rules and harassment when they raise safety issues. One driver was consistently told “everyone else is doing it, you are the only one with a problem”.
Aldi also engages some contractors in its supply chain whose practices pose serious safety risks. This includes inexperienced trainers training new drivers at one SA transport operator, below-award flat rates with no superannuation at a Queensland operator and vehicles not being maintained properly at another Queensland operator.