Every time NSW’s Roads and Maritime Services misrepresent the trucking industry and its safety record, we need to shut down the RMS. The trucking industry needs to make sure assertions about truck safety by the state agency are rebutted every time the, so called, facts are uttered.
What is it which is getting me so annoyed? It is not one single message which has been put out in the media recently, but an ongoing attitude and policy position which has no basis in the cold hard facts.
In the wake of every major accident or enforcement operation the spokesperson for most state road agencies come up with the same misconstruing of the facts. RMS just happen to be the worst offender. The same old lines are trotted out about how unsafe trucks are and how the road agency is going to come down hard on all of these offenders.
The headline number usually goes something like, ‘250 trucks were inspected by our team today and 30 per cent of the trucks were found to have major defects on their brakes’. This is held up as a major coup for the agency and the state’s roads are going to be much safer as a direct result of this action and the fines etc which accompany them.
Where is the basis of this assertion? The spokesperson does not draw a line from A to B to show us how these trucks being defected is going to lead to fewer accidents and fatalities on the road, but the implication this is the case is clearly there.
Let’s look at the real figures and then work out how effective this operation has been. In the figures to be published soon by the National Truck Accident Research Centre, in all of the accidents included in the figures, representing a large proportion of the trucks on our roads, only 3.5 per cent of the incidents were the result of mechanical failure. Furthermore, the team estimate 60 per cent of that 3.5 per cent were tyre failures.
This means approximately 1.4 per cent of accidents were caused by a genuine mechanical failure on the truck itself. Not all of these were brake failures (steering would also contribute a few). There fore we have this major safety initiative being heralded by the RMS attacking less than one per cent of the accidents involving trucks.
What are they doing about the other 99 per cent of accidents?
We have to thank the NTARC for highlighting this discrepancy. Owen Driscoll, from NTI, and his team have been pointing out this low incidence of accidents caused by brake defects when the report comes out every couple of years for some time now. It’s about time the trucking industry turned round and used its own figures in the general media to blow the bogus claims of the road authorities out of the water.