September 2, 2014

Transport Workers Union National Secretary Tony Sheldon today said 34 deaths in Victorian truck crashes this year was further evidence of economic pressure on truck drivers to speed or skip rest breaks in order to meet unrealistic deadlines. Mr Sheldon was speaking after Monday’s accident on Melbourne’s Westgate Freeway, when a pedestrian was struck by a truck while walking on the road.

“Road transport is Australia’s most dangerous industry, with 330 deaths each year,” Mr Sheldon said.

“Tragically this includes 34 deaths in 28 separate truck crashes around Victoria this year. That’s an average of one truck crash death for every week this year – a disastrous outcome on Victorian roads.

“Our sympathies are with the families of those killed or involved in these crashes, including yesterday’s fatal accident.

“The causes of the Westgate Freeway crash remain under investigation, reportedly including why the pedestrian was on the road in the path of oncoming traffic.

“But we’re seeing more and more truck crashes as a result of speeding, fatigue and poor maintenance – many caused by transport clients setting unrealistic deadlines and keeping vehicles on the road too long.

“A 2012 survey showed 46% of drivers in one major supply chain – Coles – face economic pressure to skip rest breaks and 26% have to speed to meet delivery deadlines.

“It’s time to end pressure on drivers through action in the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, which sets safe rates of pay and conditions in road transport.

“The Federal Government is ‘reviewing’ the Tribunal with a view to closing it down.

“If this occurs we will see even tighter deadlines, worse maintenance and more economic pressure on drivers.

“And that can only mean more truck crashes and deaths on our roads.”

Truck crashes in Victoria include:

• A truck driver was killed when his truck rolled over on Cobden-Warrnambool Rd near Warrnambool (January 14)

• A female pedestrian killed after being hit by a truck on the Western Highway at Gordon (January 17)

• A cyclist died in hospital after being hit by a truck on Frankston-Dandenong Road at Bangholme (January 31)

• A truck driver killed after his truck crashed and rolled at Boundary Rd, Narre Warren (February 10)

• A 12-year-old girl and a 30-year-old man killed when their car was hit by a truck on Mount Slide Rd, Steels Creek (February 15)

• Four people killed in a collision between a car and a truck at Catani (Feb 28)

• A 61-year-old man died when his car collided with a truck at the intersection of Grahamvale Rd and Ford Rd, Shepparton (March 12)

• A truck driver killed when his truck clipped a tree during early morning deliveries on Bluff Rd, Hampton (March 26

• A motorcyclist killed in a collision with a truck at the intersection of Avoca- Talbot Rd and the Pyrenees Highway, Bung Bong (March 26)

• A male pedestrian died after being hit by a truck near Three Chains Rd and Dons Rd, Newham (March 26)

• A 12-year-old boy killed in a multi-vehicle collision involving both a truck and a bus on Great Alpine Rd, Gippsland (April 1)

• A woman killed in a collision between a truck and a car on Yan Yean Rd, Doreen (April 8)

• A 69-year-old man died in a truck-car collision on Melba Highway, Dixons Creek (April 8)

• A 23-year-old man survived a car crash on the Princes Highway at Little River, but was then hit and killed by a passing truck (April 11)

• A man died in hospital after his car was hit by a truck on Thompsons Rd, Granbourne (April 12)

• A man died in a truck-car collision on the Western Ring Rd, Melbourne (April 15)

• A 68-year-old man killed in a truck-car collision on Cobden-Stonyford Rd, Bullaharre (April 24)

• A boy died in hospital after a multi-vehicle truck crash on Hopkins Rd, Truganina (May 27)

• A truck driver died in a collision between two trucks on Sale-Toongabbie Rd, Nambrok (May 29)

• A man died in a truck-tractor crash on the Princes Highway, Dartmoor (June 10)

• A 30-year old man killed after being hit by a milk tanker near Lismore, Victoria (June 22)

• A pedestrian died after being hit by a truck on the Calder Freeway, Keilor North (June 26)

• A man died in a truck-car collision on the Monash Freeway, Narre Warren (July 5)

• A truck driver killed after his truck crashed on Pinnucks Rd, Strathmerton (July 23)

• An 80-year-old man died after his car was hit by a garbage truck at the intersection of Hall Rd and Cadles Rd, Carrum Downs (August 1)

• A man died in a head-on collision with a truck, Murray Valley Hwy, Lake Boga (August 5)

• Two women and a boy killed in a multi-vehicle crash with a BP petrol tanker on Yackandandah-Wodonga Rd near Wodonga (August 7)

• A pedestrian killed after being struck by a truck on the Wesgate Freeway, Melbourne (September 1)

Mr Sheldon said the Federal Government’s decision to ‘review’ the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal came after closed door meetings, and $1.2 million in political donations from major transport client Coles.

“Some Government MP’s have described the Tribunal as ‘red tape,” Mr Sheldon said.

“Our message to the Government is that road safety is not red tape.”

“No one wants to risk their own or anyone else’s life.

“But when drivers aren’t paid enough to maintain their vehicles or earn a living wage, they can be forced to speed, skip breaks or carry overweight loads just to survive.

“The RSRT is designed to stop that pressure. It’s critical that the Government leave it alone to get on with its job.”

The 2012 industry survey of Coles supply chain drivers found:

• 46% of heavy vehicle drivers were pressured to skip rest breaks to meet delivery times;

• 28% of drivers carried overweight loads in order to deliver goods on time; and

• 26% of drivers were pressured to speed to meet employer deadlines.

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