A decision to abolish a road safety watchdog last year has removed the only mechanism to investigate the financial pressure on drivers and trucking companies which causes truck crashes, such as speeding, driving long hours, skipping mandatory rest breaks, delaying essential maintenance and overloading vehicles.
Transport workers delivering supplies to building sites are also subject to the ABCC, meaning trained union safety officials can’t support drivers raising safety concerns.
“These changes have made trucking less safe and sadly this has grave implications for drivers and other road users. The Federal Government is not only taking away workers’ rights and trying to silence them, they are endangering people’s lives,” said TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon.
Deaths from truck crashes are increasing. The end of last year showed a 6.2% jump in deaths from rigid vehicles crashes and a 1.6% jump in deaths from crashes involving articulated vehicles, according to the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics. Safe Work Australia statistics from 2016 show one out of every three workers killed was a transport work.
“The Federal Government should not be surprised at these statistics. It’s own report from last year showed the rulings from the road Safety Remuneration Tribunal would cut truck crashes by 28%,” he added.
A Macquarie University study last month criticised a “critical gap” since the Government abolished the regulation that the independent tribunal represented, “that can eliminate existing incentives for overly tight scheduling, unpaid work, and rates that effectively are below cost recovery”.