Ramping Up the Safety Agenda

Recent events have seen a number of people ramping up the safety agenda, but it shouldn’t need severe criticism from elsewhere to get us fired up. The trucking industry needs to stand together as a single unit on these kinds of issues and present a strong and practical front, backed up by good PR, there is no room for error.

It all started with the road crash statistics from last year. Although relatively low in number, the percentage jump in deaths from accidents involving trucks in NSW was something the anti-trucking  lobby could hang their arguments on.

The first to reply was Urszula Kelly from UC Logistics in WA. She got straight to the point and took down the Sydney Morning Herald article by Ann Williamson. Going through the assertions about trucking not caring about truck and fatigue management, suspect interpretations of fatigue research and the prevalence of productivity-based wages.

Urszula really hit the mark when she started to talk about improving the dialogue between the public and the trucking industry. An improved, and consistent, message from trucking is going to dispel misconceptions about how the road transport industry behaves and performs.

She also called for an attempt to change the attitude of those working in the industry to fatigue management. It should not be seen as an imposition, but more as a way to improve health and wellbeing around trucking.

Getting chain of responsibility rules and enforcement right is a major point here. If the implications of unsafe practices around trucks is reflected back on those creating the problems, many of the issues are going to decrease.

Then the Australian Trucking Association announced its involvement with the National Road Safety Partnership Program. The ATA will join the 2018 Re: Act campaign. The focus of the campaign is to improve the safety of young road users when interacting with trucks. Over the next 12 months NRSPP will also feature case studies and webinars of some ATA members.

Furthermore, the ATA called for the the Australian Transport Safety Bureau to be brought in to investigate serious truck crashes. It also recommended spending $4.3 million in the 2018 Budget to set up national databases of coronial recommendations about road safety and serious truck crashes.

Then the big guns joined the fray. Toll puts out a six point plan outlining its ideas on how to cut fatalities. Unfortunately, in reporting the initiative the SMH compounded its earlier error by rolling out a litany of accidents which have occurred on our roads and involving trucks. This was accompanied on the web by videos of burning trucks and a photo of the Mona Vale tanker tragedy from 2013.

However, the SMH did allow us a bit of positive information, ‘Research from National Transport Insurance found in 93 per cent of deaths involving trucks, light vehicle drivers were to blame, underscoring the need for more education of car drivers,’ said the writer, Patrick Begley.

At least we had all of the trucking industry stakeholders singing from the same hymn sheet. We need a lot more of this and the we may get a bit less of the kind of reporting we got from the SMH, burying important safety recommendations under a list of unfortunate events which are neither relevant nor current.