ATA Chairman responds to Four Corners

04 February 2014

Trucking business directors and executives should be held to account for maintenance by extending the special laws that apply to truck driver fatigue and speeding, the Chairman of the Australian Trucking Association, David Simon, said today (Tuesday, 4 February 2014).

Mr Simon was responding to the Four Corners episode on the trucking industry last night (Monday, 3 February 2014).

“In tough times, it is easy for business executives to cut back on maintenance spending in the belief that it won’t affect safety – for a while,” Mr Simon said.

“There are special road transport laws – called the chain of responsibility laws – that impose safety obligations on businesses, company directors and executives. They only apply to speed management, fatigue, vehicle mass, vehicle dimensions and load restraint. They don’t apply to maintenance.

“The ATA and its members have called on governments to extend the chain of responsibility concept to vehicle maintenance.

“This would compel businesses and executives to take reasonable steps to ensure that trucks are maintained properly; for example, by ensuring that maintenance staff have adequate budgets, resources and training.”

Mr Simon said the Australian Government should respond to the episode by providing the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) with an extra $4.3 million over four years to establish national databases of coronial recommendations about road safety and serious heavy vehicle accidents.

“Setting up these databases would be the first step toward the ATSB taking on the role of investigating serious truck crashes and making safety recommendations,” Mr Simon said.

“The ATSB is known for its expertise in transport safety investigation, and is currently responsible for investigating aviation, marine and some rail accidents. The ATSB needs to be able to apply its expertise and insights to serious truck crashes as well,” he said.

Mr Simon said the trucking industry had come a long way on improving its safety.

Statistics from Australia’s leading truck insurer, NTI, show the rate of serious crashes per thousand trucks and trailers improved 42.7 per cent between 2003 and 2011. This is an unprecedented safety result,” Mr Simon said.

“More generally, Australia’s road toll has fallen to historic lows. In Victoria and NSW, the road toll last year was the lowest since 1924.

“Every death on the road is a tragedy. We all need to do more. But we also need to recognise how far the industry has come already,” he said.