It was very refreshing this week to see someone is taking notice of safety and the trucking industry. The Conversation ran a piece titled, ‘Young drivers don’t know how to be safe around trucks – here’s how we can teach them’.
It’s not the most captivating title in the world, but so what? Beggars can’t be choosers. This is something which actually tackles a real issue head on and isn’t telling us how all truckies are drug crazed lunatics.
One of the most important things about this article was where it was posted, on the The Conversation. This is a website which is organised as an independent source of news and views, sourced from the academic and research community and delivered direct to the public. Its editors work with university, CSIRO and research institute experts to unlock their knowledge for use by the wider public.
Probably even more importantly, the website is a vital source of ideas and opinions for the media, whose appetite for information, valid or not, is insatiable. This site tries to keep the media as well informed as it can. The site has 10.6 million users and a reach of 37 million through republication. Even more importantly, 66 per cent of the authors of each article are contacted by the media for more information.
Even more pleasing was the tone of the article and the issues it chose to highlight. It took facts our community have been banging on about for years and repeated them to a broader audience with the added credibility of being written by Nicki Wragg, Associate Professor, Swinburne University of Technology.
The points were made sensibly and left the reader in no doubt one of the major problems for trucks on our roads was the fact young drivers are not aware of or trained how to act around trucks when they are driving.
It’s great to see it repeated, by someone from outside trucking. Yes, over 80 per cent of fatalities involving heavy vehicles are caused by the other parties. Not only that, but 63 per cent of the people who caused the accident are 21 or younger.
This points to one of the big problems. The lack of awareness of the young person in the car on the highway or city street about what is going on with trucks is mind boggling. This article brings in a survey a group of Swinburne University students did to research and design a campaign to improve knowledge of their peers about living with trucks.
80 per cent of those questioned never considered the truck industry and so weren’t aware of the risks involved with sharing the road with heavy vehicles. 50 per cent thought truck drivers were aggressive and unskilled. 20 per cent had no knowledge of blind spots around a truck, while 60 per cent were vaguely aware of them. Most of them underestimated the time it took for trucks to brake to avoid crashes.
This research is being used to develop an information campaign which hopes to cut through this ignorance and improve safety for everyone on the road.
For trucking this is a result on every level. One, young people are trying to improve other young people’s knowledge about how to drive around trucks. Two, a website like The Conversation is running this story and publicising this initiative. Three is probably the most important, the media have been spoonfed the real story by this website and have no excuse to just run another ‘monster trucks’ type story.