Facts on truck safety reveal plenty of work ahead
OF ALL the numbers presented at TA2019 in Perth, these were some of the most sobering.
But both speakers in the Get the Latest Facts on Truck Safety session, NTI's Adam Gibson and the Toll Group's Dr Sarah Jones, said it was crucial they be confronted and discussed if we were to achieve our goal of zero fatal and serious injury crashes.
In announcing NTI's latest Major Accident Investigation report, author Mr Gibson said there were also plenty of positives to come out of the 2017 figures, the result of studying 756 'major accidents'.
"Encouragingly, we've seen the lowest number of fatigue-related crashes in the report's 16-year history,” he said.
"Fatigue was the cause of 9.8 per cent of major crashes, down from 20 per cent a decade ago.”
On the flipside, however, there had been a 60 per cent increase in mechanical failure losses, a topic close to the heart of the former mechanical engineer.
"When we dig deeper, we find that 55 per cent of them are a single cause - steer tyre failures. I think there is an opportunity to learn from the WA example around reform that encourages the take-up of twin steer prime movers where they are suitable for the task.”
Mr Gibson said there was also a lesson to be learnt around what regulators check when they inspect a vehicle.
"We could get a lot more value by shifting our focus from lights and reflectors, which has been something that's received a tremendous amount of regulatory effort, to just checking the steer tyres of trucks.”
In revealing the findings of her 10-year study of fatalities, Dr Jones said of the 127 fatal incidents involving Toll, one in five was suicide by truck.
Of the Toll drivers who lost their lives, nine per cent were as result of natural causes, most of which were heart-related.
"I've extrapolated this to the end of 2018 and this figure is on the rise; it's now at 12 per cent,” she said.
"Is assessing fitness to drive adequate for our industry?
"Why are fitness for driving standards required in aviation, maritime and rail but not in road transport? Why should it be different?
Toll is now working with medical consultants to develop its own fitness-for- duty standards.