In response to the Four Corners TV investigation into the trucking industry ATA Chairman, David Simon, is calling for trucking business directors and executives to be held accountable for truck maintenance in the same way they are liable to chain of responsibility prosecution over fatigue and speeding offences.
“In tough times, it is easy for business executives to cut back on maintenance spending in the belief that it won’t affect safety, for a while,” said Simon. “There are special road transport laws, called the chain of responsibility laws, that impose safety obligations on businesses, company directors and executives. They only apply to speed management, fatigue, vehicle mass, vehicle dimensions and load restraint. They don’t apply to maintenance.
“The ATA and its members have called on governments to extend the chain of responsibility concept to vehicle maintenance. This would compel businesses and executives to take reasonable steps to ensure that trucks are maintained properly; for example, by ensuring that maintenance staff have adequate budgets, resources and training.”
Simon also wants the Federal Government to get the Australian Transport Safety Board involved by spending an extra $4.3 million to create a database of coronial recommendations. He sees this as the first step to seeing the ATSB taking a role in investigating serious truck crashes.
“The ATSB is known for its expertise in transport safety investigation, and is currently responsible for investigating aviation, marine and some rail accidents. The ATSB needs to be able to apply its expertise and insights to serious truck crashes as well,” said Simon.
These words come as one of the trucking operations highlighted by the TV program, Blenners, has seen charges laid against four of its employees over alleged fatigue breaches. The other featured operation, Cootes, is still under investigation over the Mona Vale crash last October.
The response from Simon echoes his initial call for these reforms at last year’s ATA Technical and Maintenance back in October. Clearly, the analysis of the situation at the time drove the ATA to try and pre-empt the result of any investigations into maintenance regimes and they are hoping the government responses to any outcry following the recent reports will take this route.