February 8, 2021


Truck drivers will tell a Senate inquiry today how lower standards have led to horrific deaths from crashes and armed hold-ups of drivers delivering cash to bank machines.

A garbo will tell how councils award companies with bad safety records waste contracts that have resulted in the deaths of pedestrians.

An armoured car driver who delivers cash and valuables will describe how low cost contracts from banks has resulted in less secure vans, less security personnel and less training, causing armed hold-ups by criminal gangs which risk the lives of drivers and the public.

A concrete driver will describe deadly rollovers of trucks because of drivers not being trained adequately and forced to work fatigued with their trucks overloaded.

A rideshare driver will describe drivers falling asleep at the wheel because of the low pay and fear of speaking up in case they are sacked.

The Senate Inquiry is looking at standards in road transport and the survival of the industry with the looming threat of the gig economy.

TWU NSW Branch Secretary Richard Olsen said drivers see horrific incidents on a daily basis, linked to major retailers, manufacturers, banks oil companies and local councils not wanting to pay a fair rate to ensure their goods are transported safely.

“Road transport is Australia’s deadliest industry because major retailers, oil companies and manufacturers are continually demanding low cost contracts to deliver their goods. These low contracts result in trucks not being maintained and drivers not paid properly and forced to work long hours, speed and skip their rest breaks. We need to raise standards in road transport and hold these major companies to account in order to tackle this problem so we can reduce the risk of death and injury on our roads,” he said.

“Heavy vehicle drivers today will reveal just how difficult their jobs can be. The daily horror seen by drivers on the roads is made all the more frustrating because drivers know deaths and injuries are preventable if safety, not low cost, is made the number one priority. We want the Federal Government to listen to these drivers today and act to reform our industry so that they can go to work and be safe and ensure that members of the public are safe too,” Mr Olsen added.

“The effect of the gig economy is to lower standards even further. We need robust regulation for the entire road transport industry to stop this trend and race to the bottom,” he said.

In April 2017, the Federal Government tore down an independent tribunal investigating safety risks in trucking which also had powers to hold major retailers, manufacturers, banks and oil companies to account over the rates they pay. The Governent has failed ever since to replace it despite a Government report stating that “trucks are disproportionately involved in casualty crashes”.

Since the tribunal was torn down 841 people have died in truck crashes including 182 truck drivers.

A major survey of truck drivers by Monash University last week revealed truck driving is also a shockingly unhealthy profession. Over 80% of drivers are overweight or obese, one in five suffering from depression, over 70% living with chronic pain and almost a third with multiple chronic health conditions.

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