Report: good vehicle maintenance improves road safety

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of members. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Thursday, 1 April, 2021 - 12:15
Industry news
National News

Road transport operators who effectively maintain their vehicles are less likely to be involved in an incident, according to a new report from Australia’s largest trucking insurer and the industry regulator.

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator and Australia’s leading trucking insurer, NTI, have brought together their research, to minimise risk and create safer workplaces for truck drivers.

Data from NTI’s NTARC Major Accident Investigation Report and the NHVR’s National Roadworthiness Baseline Survey was examined to create a new report which looks at the relationship between vehicle standards and safety performance.

Traditionally there has been very little evidence that proves a link between vehicle maintenance and major incidents due to a separation between organisations that hold data on vehicle condition and those who have access to crash data.

“There was a 29 per cent increase in frequency and a 22 per cent increase in the cost of claims for transport companies with poorly maintained couplings,” said report author, NTI’s transport and logistics risk engineer Adam Gibson.

“For wheel and tyre defects, the frequency was 32 per cent higher than the baseline while cost was 26 per cent higher,” he said.

“It’s important to note this does not show crashes were caused by defects in those systems, but that operators with trucks in which couplings, wheels and tyres were not well maintained, were involved in a greater number of claims. The link is correlative, not causative.”

Gibson said there was one category that yielded surprising results.

“There was only a 3 per cent higher frequency and 4 per cent higher cost compared to the baseline for operators who had vehicles with defects in their braking system,” Gibson said.

“This is due to the way braking systems were tested back in 2016, and that process has now undergone a significant overhaul.”

Ten key areas were examined in the report, including brakes, couplings, steering and suspension, wheels and tyres, structure, seats, lights, mirrors, windscreens, and engine and driveline to determine there was a correlation between poor maintenance and increased claims frequency and cost.

NHVR director of vehicle safety and performance Peter Austin said this report highlighted the importance of regular and effective maintenance regimes across the heavy vehicle fleet.

“Well maintained vehicles operating on our road network are essential to the safety of all road users,” Austin said.

“If we see a history of non-compliance, we intervene early and investigate further to prevent a potential accident from occurring.”