A number of issues appear regularly on the pages of Diesel Magazine, and on Diesel News, which are constants in the trucking life. Invariably there is no silver bullet solution available (unless making a large bureaucracy disappear in one fell swoop was possible). The path to any kind of solution is just chipping away one step at a time, gradually getting closer to some satisfaction.
One area of the country seems to have come up with these kinds of long term life improvement initiatives more than once and should be commended for doing so. East Gippsland have given us both the rollover awareness program and is now working on a project called ‘Truckies Lighting Up For Safety’ which is already kicking goals.
The first scheme was to try and improve rollover performance, which was a major issue in Gippsland where there are a lot of timber trucks with a high centre of gravity and, consequently, a high proportion of rollovers. A partnership between some VicRoads people on the ground and local timber carters developed a simple way to present truck drivers with easy to understand information about what causes, and how to avoid, rollovers.
Listening to the presentation myself I realised how many times, in my truck driving days, I had come very close to a rollover. The explanation of what happens in those moments before the trailer or truck go over, rang alarm bells in my head.
The result was a steep fall in rollover incidents around Gippsland. The idea was picked up by VicRoads and some of the VicRoads guys could even be found presenting to, and helping out truckies across the border in New South Wales.
Now another long term issue is being tackled at a local level, visibility. It’s simply a matter of having some lights on 24 hours a day when the truck is on the road. Nobody would deny the logic of making our trucks more visible to the road user. Trucks need to do as much as possible to make up for the lack of care on the part of car drivers.
The dash cam videos posted up regularly on Diesel News illustrate the point articulately. Many times an incident occurs because the car driver doesn’t appear to see the massive truck bearing down on them. With bright lights on, the chances of this happening are reduced.
The increasing use of LED lights on trucks is also helping the cause, making it easier to turn on the lights. Proper LED running lights are easier to fit and more reliable than their predecessors.
The initiative in Gippsland seems to be having an effect already. Promoted through meetings on the road and at depots, as well as on social networks like Facebook, there has been a real reduction in incidents.
A campaign took place over ten weeks earlier this year and the stats were compared to the corresponding ten week period last year.
Crashes with fatalities dropped from two to zero. Crashes with serious injuries fell from seven in 2013 to one in 2014. Six minor injury crashes dropped down to just three. In the period last year, crashes involving trucks caused two deaths, nine serious injuries and 21 minor ones. The same period this year saw zero deaths, one serious injury and four minor ones. Result!