Truck rest area funding to continue

A new report has endorsed the Australian government’s Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program (HVSPP), which funds truck rest areas and productivity measures.

The government spent $70 million on the program from 2008-09 to 2011-12 to fund 236 projects including truck rest areas on the Newell and Sturt highways, decoupling bays on the North West Coastal Highway in WA and at Nhill in Victoria, and bridge strengthening on the Monaro Highway in the ACT.

The government announced in the May budget that it will spend an extra $140 million on the program from 2012-13 to 2018-19, reflecting one of the Australian Trucking Association’s strategic priorities.

The report mentions there were early indications that the program was achieving its objectives of enhancing road safety and improving productivity.

‘While HVSPP specific data is not available for review, BITRE (Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics) data showed average reductions in heavy vehicle related accidents involving rigid and articulated trucks – at 14.7 and 3.5 percent respectively – each year between June 2008 and 2011,’ the report stated.

‘It may therefore be reasonable to conclude that the HVSPP’s improved provision of rest areas allowing for increased stops by truck operators to more effectively manage fatigue will lead to a further reduction in heavy vehicle related accidents on these routes.’

The report recommends that similar programs should continue focusing on safety-related projects. It also advises that the government should look at other ways of improving truck safety and productivity, including:
• Promoting the use of blue reflectors (as originally instigated by trucking safety advocate Rod Hannifey) as a cost-effective measure to define unofficial driver rest areas; and
• Introducing a broader road safety education campaign directed at private motorists, given it is deemed they are at fault 82 percent of the time when involved in fatal accidents with heavy vehicles.

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