This week Diesel News is attending the ARTSA Heavy Vehicle Road Safety Summit in Melbourne and the excellent turn out is being treated to an impressive roll of high powered speakers. The technical, policy and cultural issues around safety and trucks are being discussed in depth by people who know what they are talking about and have something to say on the issue.
The statistics and anecdotal evidence give us a picture of what is going on out on the roads and those involved in developing policy are in the room, and contributing. All of us involved in trucking for any amount of time have war stories about safety, or lack of it, in the industry.
At its core the issue must be about enabling a cultural change in the trucking industry, and the consignors and consignees we serve. The problem for all of these well meaning and well informed speakers is how we can communicate the message, and make it stick, to the wider community.
We don’t have to preach to the converted. We need to be communicating with those working at the coal face of trucking. We also need to get the message through to the broader community, get them to understand how to behave around trucks and what they have to think about when manoeuvring near them.
It’s not just about telling the trucking industry to think about safety, it’s about getting buy-in from the trucking workforce. Currently, the subject of safety is often met with frustration, having to sit through interminable and repetitive inductions at sites being one example. If we want a safer industry, we all have to own an attractive safety culture.
Our abject failure in communicating with the rest of the community is a common theme, here on Diesel News and the issues around safety are critical to trucking’s relationship with the general public. Over 80 per cent of the accidents involving heavy trucks and other road users, which result in fatalities, are not caused by the truck. This is a clear indication the car driver, or motor bike rider, have very little interest or knowledge of how to behave around trucks.
All of these communication objectives are related. If we had a real safety culture throughout trucking, there would be a better impression left by trucks in the public’s mind. One idiot acting aggressively on the highway will destroy the work done by hundreds of responsible and careful drivers. A simple understanding of the dynamics of a truck would save many car drivers’ lives.