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Heavy vehicle operators cautioned over fatigue and distractions

Monday, 22 January, 2018 - 15:30
Industry news
National News

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) recently issued a call for improved road safety, following an increase in the number of fatalities and incidents involving trucks.

“I am urging all road users and in particular heavy vehicle operators across Australia to take extra care on the road as the school holiday season comes to an end,” said NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto.

“We’ve seen the number of heavy vehicle fatalities across Australia decline in recent years, but the toll is still too high and we want to see that downward trend continue.

“Heavy vehicle operators are also responsible for ensuring their vehicle is roadworthy and therefore safe to travel on the road network.”

Nationally there were 216 fatalities involving heavy vehicles for the year to the end of September 2017, compared to 224 deaths over the same period the previous year.

The 216 fatalities included 121 deaths from 105 crashes involving articulated trucks, 81 deaths from 76 crashes involving heavy rigid trucks and 29 deaths from 27 crashes involving buses, according to the government’s Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) quarterly statistics on such fatalities.

The NHVR will release a range of guidance and support tools in the coming months to assist heavy vehicle operators to improve safety and also help them meet new Chain of Responsibility laws, which will be introduced in mid-2018.

“There are some simple steps operators should take such as a regular safety checklist for maintenance, mass, loading and fitness for duty including fatigue,” Petroccitto said.

“Something as simple as a daily check can ensure the safety of both the driver and other road users by giving operators confidence their vehicle and driver are in good working order.”

The NRMA recently released a report called Dead Tired, which found that fatigue can play a significant role in heavy vehicle fatalities and incidents, and called on governments to increase the number of rest stops to accommodate both heavy and light vehicles and conduct an audit of the existing rest stops across the country.

NRMA Chairman Tim Trumper said driving after being awake for 17 hours was equivalent to a blood alcohol level of 0.05, so it was crucial that drivers get adequate rest.

“Fatigue is a major killer on our roads,” said Trumper, who explained that “too many people think it is okay to drive tired.”

Australian Trucking Association CEO Ben Maguire also said that driver distraction was a growing cause of truck crashes.

He urged businesses to hold toolbox talks in the wake of the accidents, with an emphasis on listening to their staff about how to reduce distractions on the road.

“Drivers need to be completely focused on their work,” said Maguire.

“I urge trucking businesses to look at what they can do to remove or help drivers minimise as many cab distractions as possible.”