Truck drivers all over Australia would live in a safer environment if they could just slow down a bit. This is on of the conclusions we can draw from the latest report from NTARC on truck crashes in 2020 and their causes.
One of the principal causes of truck crashes has been found to be that the truck was travelling at an inappropriate speed for the conditions. Of course, this covers a multitude of sins and there are many reasons for speeding.
When it comes to speeding, as a whole, it is difficult to decide whether it was the chicken or the egg which came first. Was it the pressure on the part of consignors to get the freight to the delivery point as soon as possible, which created a culture within some truck drivers which thinks going too fast is both acceptable and desirable?
Or, was it a culture within truck drivers to get from A to B in the fastest possible time, which led to consignors getting used to faster and faster deliveries and expecting the same result every time?
Although the NTARC doesn’t tell us whether it was the chicken or the egg, it does tell us that the type of driving which is over represented in the crash stats is in appropriate speed on roads with 80 to 90 km/h speed limits. A lot of these occur on bends in these roads.
I do know from personal experience, especially in a truck with a speed limiter, that when a driver is under pressure to get to the drop on time, one of the ways to keep up the momentum and trim some time off the trip is to push harder through the bends at speeds faster than is allowed by the limit.
Going faster into the bend means you get out of the bend faster and back up to doing a dollar quicker, shaving seconds off the journey.
Combine this scenario to another, several years later, when I was sat in a seminar run by Alan Pincott, the rollover guru. He was carefully explaining in simple terms how a rollover happens and how close trucks often come to the tipping point.
As he spoke, the realisation came over me that I had come within one or two percentage points of rolling my truck many, many times, without realising and, luckily, without going over once. I then looked around the room and could see the penny drop for quite few of the drivers who were sat around me, it came as a shock to us all.
This brought me to the conclusion, it would be a good idea to do as it says in the title of this piece, just slow down a bit.