NatRoad partner, National Transport Insurance (NTI), has recently released a National Truck Accident Research Centre road safety report that shows trends in heavy vehicle road safety.
Warren Clark, CEO of NatRoad said, ”One statistic underlines that road safety is every road users’ responsibility. In 2017 the car was at fault in 83% of fatal truck and car crashes. The report shows that in 2019 where a truck and a car were involved in a multi-vehicle crash resulting in at least one fatality the car was at fault 80% of the time.
“This does not mean that we as an industry should be complacent. Heavy vehicle operators can do more. But it is unacceptable to taint an entire industry or all of those who drive trucks as blameworthy, as a number of reports from so-called enforcement ‘blitzes’ imply. Road transport is essential for all Australians. The freight and logistics industry is an essential part of the national economy, where the sector accounts for approximately 10 per cent of gross domestic product. Heavy vehicles will continue to use the road and in relation to fatalities, the evidence shows that truck drivers are rarely at fault.
“It’s clear that Australia needs to embrace a better on-road culture, that respects that heavy vehicles have a place on the road. Passenger and light vehicle interaction with heavy vehicles needs a renewed focus by road safety regulators. This could be addressed through public awareness campaigns and driver education programs for new and existing licence holders.
“Timing is also a factor. During the return to normality after the COVID-19 restrictions are eased, we all need to take better care on the roads as greater congestion is often a contributor to accidents and congestion is likely to be increased as people reject public transport.
“Another disturbing finding of the recent report is that 37.9% of fatal truck and car crashes involving an NTI insured truck were indicated or strongly indicated to be suicides by the driver of the car. This is simply tragic, especially for those truck drivers who may suffer trauma from such incidents. There needs to be urgent research as to why this is a way in which people increasingly choose to take their own lives.
“There is a great deal that can be done to improve road safety. As road users, we need to work together to make Australian roads a safer place. Until the number of fatal accidents involving trucks in Australia is zero, there is always more that we can do as an industry,” Clark concluded.
Access the NTI 2020 Major investigations report online.