Recent media reports have given credence to the Transport Workers’ Union’s claims about bringing back the defunct Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal. The statistics have shown a small increase in heavy vehicle road fatalities in the year to March 2017. That is regrettable and efforts to deal with this issue must be acted on and supported. NatRoad is part of that process.
But the TWU’s claims are not accurate. Rather than focusing on a tribunal that had a disruptive effect on the industry, the TWU should voice its support for the upcoming changes to the Chain of Responsibility laws.
The TWU attributes blame for the recent increase to truck drivers. This is not true. All of the data shows that heavy vehicle drivers are very rarely responsible for the unfortunate deaths that occur on our roads. Detailed analysis of fatalities in 2013 showed that the heavy vehicle driver was only at fault in 18 per cent of heavy vehicle fatalities.
The facts are that despite increases in heavy vehicle registrations since 2012, deaths from crashes involving articulated trucks have fallen by 28% from calendar 2012 to calendar year 2016. The way to continue this trend is not to bring back a tribunal that regulates prices but to concentrate on issues that have a positive impact on the reduction of road crashes. These are issues such as:
- The improvement of roads and other infrastructure: that is why NatRoad supports the targeted Black Spot Program1.
- The safety of vehicles and the loads they carry: NatRoad is actively contributing to the re-write of the load restraint guide update, for example.
- The safety responsibilities of parties in the supply chain which will be reinforced through new Chain of Responsibility laws coming into effect in mid-2018.
- Educating other road users about behaviour when they encounter a heavy vehicle.
Mandating remuneration for drivers that is the mantra of the TWU is not the kingpin for worker safety. It is a political stance, not a position on road safety. Increases in road safety are developed through policies which improve infrastructure, bring home responsibility in the chain and emphasise the role of education for all road users.
1 The Australian Government has committed $500 million to the Black Spot Program from 2014-15 to 2018-19, which includes an additional $200 million over two years from 2015-16 to improve road safety across the nation.