In January 2015, 21 people died in truck-related crashes, including six deaths in both NSW and South Australia, four in Victoria, two in both Queensland and Western Australia and one in Tasmania.
“All road users need to be vigilant at a time when there is more traffic on the roads. The pressure on truck drivers to speed, drive long hours and skip breaks is relentless. This pressure results in tragedy for too many people on our roads, leaving families devastated all over Australia,” said TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon.
The high death toll shows the importance of last month’s ruling from the road safety watchdog on minimum safe rates for drivers. The Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal’s order will give drivers working in long-distance and retail sectors the right to be paid for the full cost of their work, easing pressure on an industry with the highest rate of work-related fatalities.
“This ruling is a huge step towards stopping the carnage on our roads. Trucking is Australia’s deadliest profession, with drivers 15 times more likely to die than any other profession. The ruling will help address the pressures on drivers that result in an unacceptable number of deaths and injuries,” Sheldon said.
NSW truck driver, John Waltis said: “I’ve been to 52 funerals of mates killed in crashes. I don’t want to go to any more.”
The ruling comes into effect from April and sets minimum rates that secure payment for time spent waiting and queuing at depots and distribution centres. It states owner drivers must be paid for loading and unloading time and for the time it takes to clean, inspect, service and repair their trucks and trailers.
The ruling was also a world first as it holds wealthy retailers along the supply chain to account for low cost contracts which result in pressure on drivers. Drivers backed by the TWU are now pushing for similar rulings across all transport sectors, including waste, cash-in-transit, ports & wharfs, and oil, fuel & gas.