Complex Answers to Complex Questions

Some of the issues facing the trucking industry require complex answers to complex questions. There are no black and white solutions available, we need to be smart about the issues and even smarter about the way we solve them.

What we are talking about has been sparked by the decision of the authorities in NSW to organise a blitz on all truckies across four states in response to a spike in fatalities in accidents involving trucks in NSW.

Some of those who campaign about safety day-in-day-out find themselves questioning the validity of ‘Operation Rolling Thunder’. For those who are banging their head against the brick wall trying to get cultural change, both within trucking and from other road users see the knee-jerk reaction with a big splash in the media against trucks, to be simply frustrating.

Truck drivers don’t go to work to cause these accidents and the cries calling for improved education of car drivers on how to behave around trucks have fallen on deaf ears. The severity of the crackdown has created tension and unrest among the more hotheaded truckies on our roads.

The issues are not black and white. Car drivers do need to be educated about driving around heavy vehicles. However, on the other hand truck drivers need to take more personal ownership of their voice and their actions.

In a parallel conversation an industry braking professional pointed out to me this week about how often their technicians see trucks and trailers with in service issues which could contribute to a crash even if not the drivers fault . There’s also the continuing issue of EBS equipped trailers not having the EBS plugged in.

It was also pointed out to me this week how we need to get out of a mind set from the eighties, operators of all sizes need to take more ownership of the maintenance of their fleet, they also need to quote the work correctly and others up and down the chain need to understand their role. The industry is still facing constant downward pressure on freight rates.

Others have contacted me asking about the lack of enforcement agencies ability to grasp what their role is and how to deploy their resources effectively in improving road safety. They are calling for a rethink in the approach taken at the roadside.

Those representing the enforcement side of the equation point to 6000 trucks inspected in a day, 2000 defects identified, 30 drug drivers put off the road. This is a valid point and they do have the stats to show us and distribute to the media.

The issue is always which levers do you pull to get some improvement.There are plenty of discussions to be had about which of the methods proposed is going to get the best results. There is no benefit to be had from criticising others concerned about road safety, just because they approach the issue from a different perspective. The trucking industry and those with the job of policing and supporting it do face a complex set of problems, which need a complex set of solutions.