Weekend Truck Crashes Claim 10 Lives; Govt Moves To Abolish Road Safety Watchdog

Apr 18, 2016

TWU MEDIA RELEASE, 18 April 2016

A weekend of horror truck crashes has claimed the lives of 10 people, including two young girls, as the Government prepares to abolish the road safety watchdog.

A crash between a station wagon and a truck yesterday in South Australia on Augusta Highway killed four members of the same family including two girls aged five and 10 years, according to reports. A crash in Western Australia killed two teenagers. Two men and a woman were killed in a truck crash near Ballarat, Victoria, early Saturday. On Friday evening a motorcyclist died in NSW after a collision with a truck. The weekend death toll brings to 18 the number of people killed in April in truck crashes.

“My thoughts are with the families left devastated by these tragedies which have to be fully investigated. This has been a black weekend for the trucking community and the wider community which bear the brunt of these horrific crashes. I am appealing to the Government not to abolish the one body tasked to examine the pressure in trucking which leads to so many tragedies,” said TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon.

“What other proof does the Government need that there is a problem with safety on our roads involving trucks? We know that a deadly cycle is at play in transport with major retailers and manufacturers squeezing transport operators and drivers with low cost contracts to the point that our roads are not safe,” Sheldon added.

Truck drivers and Transport Workers’ Union are attending a hearing at the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal to defer an Order on safe minimum rates for truck drivers while outstanding issues are addressed. The application includes a delay for the first phase of minimum safe rates for long-distance owner drivers to January next year. It also seeks to ensure transport operators are paid by clients within 30 days of completing work, that changes be made to the current Order on split loads and back loads and that a mechanism be included to adjust the rates in line with fuel prices. Full transparency is also been sought for client contracts to ensure they allow for all costs to be covered by transport operators including employee driver minimum rates, insurance, maintenance of fleets, superannuation and fuel.

The Government’s own reports released recently show that road transport has the “highest fatality rates of any industry in Australia” with 12 times the average for all industries. The reports also show the link between road safety and the pay rates of drivers and that the Tribunal will reduce truck crashes by 28%*.

Drivers from the cash delivery sector, ports, delivery of fuel, waste, retail and manufacturers will lose out if the Tribunal is abolished, with investigations ongoing in these sectors. Truck drivers, road safety campaigners and the TWU will visit Canberra on Tuesday to explain the pressures in the industry and the work the Tribunal is doing to address it.

“Road deaths in truck crashes are unacceptably high. Truck drivers have the highest workplace deaths, they suffer from chronic fatigue, stress, mental health problems and are among the highest numbers for suicide and bankruptcies. The Government must acknowledge there is a problem in this industry,” Sheldon added.


* PricewaterhouseCoopers “Review of the Road Safety Remuneration System Final Report January 2016” (PWC Review 2016 – published by the Commonwealth Department of Employment on 1 April, 2016)

Jaguar Consulting Pty Ltd “Review of the Road Safety Remuneration System 16 April, 2014 (Jaguar Consulting 2014 – published by the Commonwealth Department of Employment on 1 April, 2016)

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