Opinion

An Accident Waiting to Happen

awareness

Safety on our roads around trucks is an incredibly important subject, but sometimes what we are doing seems more like a band aid solution than the game changer we need, it’s an accident waiting to happen.

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator is now currently going through the process of finalising Round Eight funding in the Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative, which sees government funding allocated out to a number of projects to improve the safety outcomes around heavy vehicles on our roads. The decision is made by the NHVR as to who will be given the funds and then they allocate the money out to the different projects.

All of these projects are worthy, and should make a difference and sees smart ideas coming from industry sectors and communities working towards better safety outcomes around trucks.

Looking down the list, I can’t help thinking they appear to be more like a band aid solution for much a much bigger problem. They will chip away at the issue, but the much bigger problem is that car drivers are completely unaware and untrained about how to act around heavy vehicles and a growing proportion of the truck driving community are sub-optimal in terms of driving skills.

For car drivers who misbehave around trucks, there is very little that any enforcement can do about any behaviour which isn’t strictly illegal. While there’s money being spent on safety is has got to be a good thing, we can’t complain about that, but if there was a serious national attempt to educate car drivers, there would be concrete results for every dollar spent. 

On the other side of the coin, the level of training within the truck driving workforce also leaves a lot to be desired. We are currently allowing anybody who has managed to pass a relatively simple test in one state or another to drive multiple combination trucks anywhere in Australia, carrying anything, at any time, unsupervised.

Sit down in any truckstop in Australia and talk to the truck drivers sitting in the restaurant. They will have a series of stories about drivers they have seen, or drivers they have worked with, who were not up to the job and who are danger both to themselves and to the rest of the society. 

There’s nothing we can do about it because they’ve got their license. They haven’t got the skills, they just have the license. 

The trucking industry has been crying out for some form of genuine training, apprenticeship or certification of on the job training. Whatever we need to make our roads safer, it needs to happen and it needs to happen as soon as possible. 

Our roads get busier and busier our trucks get heavier and heavier. The l skill levels within our truck driving. community get lower and lower. This is, literally, an accident waiting to happen.

 

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