A truck crash snapshot has been released by NTI’s National Truck Accident Research Centre from the findings of the latest study into heavy vehicle crash incidents in Australia. In this study the parameters are different to those used in the NTI biennial survey, NTARC has analysed heavy motor losses, managed by the insurer, over $5000 between 2011 and 2015.
‘This analysis reviewed 14,000 incidents where NTI contributed close to $500m over a 5 year period,” said Owen Driscoll, National Director of Research “ Of course, it will be the precursor to the early 2017 release of the 7th in the series of ‘Major Truck Crash Incidents’ over $50,000, which NTARC publishes biennially.
‘Whilst we have not reviewed those incidents ‘off the network’ involving farming, mining and earthmoving sectors, this is the first study where we have independently identified specific State results. Furthermore, our research previously has been limited to larger losses and with the focus of this study for generally all on-road losses, the findings are quite interesting.
“In time, a comprehensive research report will be forthcoming, although for now this is a snapshot of the study.”
The snapshot tells us 44 per cent of reported incidents were single vehicle accident with the remainder involving individual or multiple third party vehicle(s).
Looking at single vehicle crashes, the top four predominant causes of crashes were found to be inappropriate speed for the prevailing conditions at 14.4 per cent, fatigue influenced crashes at 7.4 per cent, mechanical, (the majority related to tyre failure and non accident related fires) at 7.2 per cent and animal strike accounted for 14 per cent, mostly cattle and kangaroos.
In multiple vehicle incidents (56 per cent of the total), 68 per cent of the time, the truck was responsible for the loss, although NTI point out, in fatal incidents involving other traffic, the lighter vehicle is usually held to account. 34 per cent of the incidents involved the heavy vehicle impacting the rear of the other vehicle, 14 per cent saw the insured unit strike third parties when changing lanes and in 11 per cent of cases the driver of the heavy vehicle failed to give way.
When the incident involved mechanical and vehicle operating issues, tyre failure due to over or under inflation, heat, road conditions or defects accounted for 32 per cent of reported incidents with consequential vehicle damage. 20 per cent were due to truck or trailer fires, with the causal factor usually wiring and electrical.
According to the report, there is an increasing trend in turntable/ring failure due to incorrect coupling, higher stress factors associated with increased capacity of dog trailers and general maintenance to cover wear and tear. This accounted for 17 per cent of associated mechanical issues.
In a finding which may surprise the various jurisdictions, losses attributed to brake and steering failure were inconsequential.
In States such as NSW and Victoria where traffic density is proportionately higher, there were more incidents involving third parties. This lead to a crash incident rate of 1 crash per 37 items insured in NSW, in contrast to the Northern Territory where it was 1 incident for every 66 items. However, the average cost of losses in the NT was substantially greater.
The findings in this snapshot are consistent with the Major Crash studies, most incidents occur on outbound journeys from home base and usually early in the week. Whilst December was consistently the quietest month, there was no specific month that was noted as any worse than the other.
The average ages of drivers involved were also recorded. The oldest come from Queensland and the youngest from the NT. Overall nationally, the average age was 45 years 248 days. 40 per cent were over the age of 50 years with 1 in every 4.2 drivers in the study were over 55. Under 25 years old drivers recorded just 4 per cent of losses, mainly as a result of low numbers of driver under 25 being employed in the industry.