Death toll down but drivers at risk still

A roadside memorial on the Warrego Highway near the Haigslea-Amberley Rd intersection.
A roadside memorial on the Warrego Highway near the Haigslea-Amberley Rd intersection. David Nielsen

IT ONLY takes a glace at the Dash Cam Owners Australia Facebook page to see that Australia's highway and byways are a dangerous place.

The amount of dash cam footage of car drivers break-checking trucks or overtaking dangerously are a very real reminder that safety is not on the minds of some.

While we've come a long way with road safety there are still hundreds of deaths every year.

A Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics report into fatal crashes involving heavy vehicles showed deaths involving heavy rigid trucks were down 13.9% overall.

But it's not the same story for deaths from articulated trucks, which have increased by 6.7% year on year.

In the past year ending June 2016 there were 182 fatal crashes involving heavy trucks or buses, killing some 208 people.

Of those, 111 deaths were from 96 crashes involving articulated trucks, 79 deaths from 68 crashes with heavy rigid trucks and 25 deaths from 22 crashes involving buses.

While that report shows the overall crashes, only Safe Work Australia reports on worker fatalities.

Since SWA released figures showing the amount of worker truck-related fatalities in Australia from 2003 to 2012 last year the numbers of deaths have dropped.

Data shows 907 workers died in in the past 12 years, 30% of all worker fatalities in the period.

Of those deaths 77% was either the truck driver or passenger of a truck, the rest being workers in other vehicles, pedestrians or people working in the vicinity of trucks.

The deaths for 2014 were an all time low, with 55 worker truck-related fatalities and in 2013 with 56 deaths.

A large percentage was the truck occupant which made up 44 of those deaths for both years.

What was good to note was the number of deaths of truck occupants had also decreased over the years, 2007 was the worst with 86 truckies dying, followed by 2009 with 77.

The next level of detail, what caused the crashes is not reported on.

Over the 12 years from 2003 to 2014, incidents on public roads accounted for almost three-quarters (74%) of truck-related worker fatalities.

In around one-quarter of the truck-related incidents, the worker was killed at work sites away from a public road. The 238 fatalities in this category include 159 truck occupants, 62 pedestrian workers and 17 occupants of other vehicles.

Over the 2003-14 period, 72% of truck-related worker fatalities were due to a vehicle collision.

Single vehicle incidents accounted for over half (54%) of the vehicle collision fatalities and 39% of all truck-related fatalities.

A further 11% of truck-related fatalities were due to being hit by moving objects, which in most cases was a pedestrian worker hit by a vehicle. 

Vehicle collision and being hit by moving objects were responsible for 98% of the fatalities on a public road.

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