Following allegations of speed limiter tampering against major trucking companies, the National Transport Commission has recommended new laws that would immediately ban heavy vehicles from the road if they are caught driving 15km/h or more above the speed limit.
The Australian Trucking Association and NatRoad have backed the draft laws.
“These employer groups are disingenuous and hypocritical,” said Tony Sheldon, National Secretary of the Transport Workers’ Union.
“For years, the TWU has highlighted the appalling pressure forced upon truck drivers to meet unrealistic deadlines. Yet, NatRoad and ATA have been conspicuous in their silence.
“Economic pressure in the trucking industry has contributed to 2,548 deaths on Australian roads in a decade. The one mechanism that could address this economic pressure was the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal.
“NatRoad and ATA aided and abetted the Liberals as they pulled the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal apart.
“Enforcement of laws on our roads is important. But to make this industry safer we must address the root cause of why truck drivers are racing to meet a deadline. Transport companies and drivers are constantly forced to choose between safety, their job and maintaining contracts.
“So long as transport companies and drivers are under impossible pressure from major retailers such as Coles to deliver freight cheaper and faster, heavy vehicle driving will continue to be Australia’s most lethal job.
Safe Work Australia figures show one in five transport employers break safety rules to meet deadlines – this compares with just 6% of employers in other industries. BITRE figures show truck drivers are 12 times more likely to be killed at work than other occupations.