The latest crash figures are raising issues and the trucking industry should be heading them off at the pass. The numbers look bad in some areas and are providing fuel to those who want to take the big stick to trucking.
We have been down this road many times before and it’s about time we learnt our lesson. There has been a blip in accident figures which are largely unexplained. We have seen the number of deaths resulting from accidents involving trucks on our roads gradually get lower year-on-year since the eighties, until now.
The reasons for this are many. but the increased awareness of the importance of safety within the trucking industry were one of the major contributors to the drop in fatalities. This result is something which shines a positive light on the trucking industry.
The mayhem on the roads of NSW in late 1989 were a catalyst for the changes. The deaths of a large number of people in two accidents involving buses on the Pacific Highway provoked a government backlash, which could have had a drastic effect on the way the trucking industry operated.
That backlash was largely averted by a massive campaign to get road safety front and centre in the minds of those working with trucks. Smart initiatives demonstrated a genuine commitment from a major part of the road transport industry to run a safe operation. The initiatives included the Transport Workers Union and the industry projected a united front to the authorities to assure them of the reality of the changes.
Last year’s accident figures show increased accidents involving trucks in New South Wales. This is enough for campaigners against the trucking industry to be able to start to talking up measures like the infamous remuneration tribunal. There’s been an opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald blaming productivity-based pay for the accident increase.
Opposition Transport Spokesperson, Anthony Albanese was interviewed on the ABC about rising car accident figures in Australia. He did not miss out on the opportunity to mention truck accident numbers and call for something like the RSRT to return to the statute books.
This should be a call to action for the trucking industry. If we don’t want something like the RSRT to rear it’s ugly head, then we need to come up with a viable alternative. There are some initiatives going on at the moment which should be effective in reducing truck related deaths, but they do not have the quick fix logic, or image, the RSRT possessed.
This is where we have to be smart about the topic. The trucking industry needs to present a genuine and easily explained potential solution to these headline accident figures. It has to be something the media would report and it has to have credibility.
This has been a perennial problem for the industry. There have been safety initiatives and real improvements in outcomes across the board, but it has not been communicated professionally and the cowboy operators who grab the headlines and drag the industry down are, firstly tolerated, and then do something to tarnish the image of the whole industry.