TWU SA/NT Branch Media Release, 2 March 2017
The Transport Workers’ Union has called on industry to come on board with a solution to the crisis in trucking, which saw grandfather Steve Eberhard killed last year after he was hit by a truck.
The driver of the truck, who has pleaded guilty to charges related to the death, was under the influence of drugs and has separately been charged over heavy vehicle fatigue management.
“My condolences go out to the family of Steve Eberhard. His death was not an accident, it was a preventable tragedy. Every day we see drivers under pressure to take risks on the road and while companies benefit from this by increasing their profit, it is families like the Eberhards and the rest of the community who bear the brunt. This has got to stop,” said TWU SA/NT branch secretary Ian Smith.
“The transport industry must admit there is a problem and be part of the solution. They must join with drivers to demand that wealthy retailers and manufacturers stop cutting their transport costs because this is impacting on lives on the road. When transport operators and drivers are under financial pressure trucks do not get maintained, drivers are forced to speed, drive long hours and engage in other risky behaviour,” Smith added.
Deaths from truck crashes are increasing. The end of last year showed a 6.2% jump in deaths from rigid vehicles crashes and a 1.6% jump in deaths from crashes involving articulated vehicles, according to the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics.
In South Australia police blitzes of trucks have revealed fatigued drivers and defective trucks. Last June SA police found 15% of 4,000 trucks stopped were either defective or had other serious issues, including drivers exceeding their driving hours, not taking mandatory rest breaks or inadequate load restraints.