If we want safer roads and a safer trucking industry, it’s all about education, education, education. There is a massive gap in understanding between those involved with trucks and those outside our industry, and it’s our job to bring them up to speed.
This week, long-time trucking industry campaigner, Rod Hannifey, identified three main issues. “Educate motorists about sharing the road with bigger trucks,” wrote Rod. “Fix the roads so they do not cause the damage to the trucks and drivers so we can do our job safer. And provide enough suitable and sufficient rest areas for all tired drivers.”
So, we need to educate the other drivers on the road about how to live with trucks – what they can and cannot do. Drivers have no understanding of what is a dangerous manoeuvre in front of a truck. They will cut in front, hang around alongside or accelerate as a truck overtakes, as part of their daily routine. They have no idea of the risks they are taking, sitting in the blind spot by the nearside drive axle and expecting the truck to both see them and be able to avoid running them over.
The potential dangers of drink driving, speeding, running red lights, etc., are all outlined and advertised. The basic rules cars should follow around trucks are never outlined; no one has any idea what they are.
At the same time, 93 per cent of all serious accidents involving a truck and a light vehicle are the fault of the light vehicle. In my opinion, ignorance of the rules should not be a defence in the case of an accident.
The condition of the roads is in no doubt. Inadequate maintenance of the current road stock and limited investment in new infrastructure has a cost, and that cost is not understood by the decision makers in power. The road conditions for trucks do contribute to both road accidents and adverse economic results.
I have witnessed a serious incident in which a truck rolled off a highway as a direct result of a dip in the road surface being allowed to develop after a bridge. Luckily, it ended in just a few cuts and bruises.
Any driver who has done a full shift on one of our rougher roads (there are plenty of candidates out there!) will tell you how knackered they feel at the end of the shift, just through the physical effort of keeping on the road and in the seat. A full shift on a smooth road feels like a relaxing day at a spa, in comparison.
At the end of this full shift on a bumpy road, where does our weary driver rest? Anywhere they can fit a truck, because road builders consistently fail to build enough parking areas for trucks. They clearly don’t know how many trucks park up on the roadside every night and that there are strict fatigue laws for truck drivers.
We need to bring the state and local road authorities up to speed on an issue they have ignored consistently, because there is little legal imperative for them to create ample parking capacity.
Trucking people everywhere need to consistently lobby for better education about many aspects of our job. Otherwise, the situation will get worse and when it does all go wrong, it will be the truckie’s fault.