Do Wages Cause Speeding?

Oct 21, 2015

Big Rigs, by Candyce Braithwaite, 21 October 2015

What is the speeding culture in the heavy vehicle industry?

Jason Edwards from the Queensland University of Technology spoke on this topic at the recent Australasian Road Safety Conference on the Gold Coast.

Mr Edwards said in 2013, 27% of heavy vehicle crashes were caused by speeding.

“I wanted to find out what factors were behind the speeding incidents,” he said.

“We looked into training, shared beliefs, attitudes and values of drivers.

“We also looked at other factors like policing on the roads and customer expectations.”

For the case study, Mr Edwards worked with three different transport companies.

“All three companies had different characteristics,” he said.

“I interviewed drivers, managers, owners.

“Despite the different characteristics, I developed the same conclusions from each company.”

Mr Edwards discussed the current laws and enforcement to prevent speeding.

“There’s speed limiters, but they don’t stop you speeding in a 60 or 80kmh zone or from speeding down hills,” he said.

“There’s point to point cameras, but most drivers know how long it should take them to get through.

“And there’s police on the side of the road, this doesn’t work because all drivers have a UHF and know where they are.”

When analysing the transport companies themselves, Mr Edwards discovered they were doing minimal monitoring.

“There’s no certainty a truck driver will be caught speeding,” he said.

“So there’s no deterrence not to speed.

“In fact, there’s actually financial incentive to speed with drivers being paid per the kilometre or load.”

Mr Edwards said the truck drivers placed high value on time which included speeding to make up for lost time.

“Another part of the case study revealed drivers didn’t link safety with policy and instead learn from experience or stories from other truck drivers,” he said.

“But truck drivers are also vulnerable to normalisation, when they continue to do something unsafe and nothing happens they start to believe it’s safe.

“While crashes in the heavy vehicle industry are too common, they are also rare for individuals.”

In the conclusion of his case study, the only way Mr Edwards could see to reduce speeding in the heavy vehicle industry was changing the way drivers are paid.

“If truck drivers were paid by the hour, it wouldn’t encourage speeding,” he said.

“In training sessions drivers also need to be taught from real incidents.”

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© 2016 Transport Workers' Union of Australia.
Authorised by Tony Sheldon, TWU National Secretary, 388-390 Sussex St, Sydney, NSW 2000 Australia.