POWER UP: Celebrating the funding boost at the Power Up! NatRoad Conference are (from left) NatRoad CEO Warren Clark, NatRoad president Allan Thornley and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack.
POWER UP: Celebrating the funding boost at the Power Up! NatRoad Conference are (from left) NatRoad CEO Warren Clark, NatRoad president Allan Thornley and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack. Kate Dodd

Massive boost for road safety

MORE than 90 road safety projects have received a massive funding boost of $132.5m from the Australian Government, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack says.

Mr McCormack, who is also the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, made the announcement at the Power Up! NatRoad conference on Hamilton Island.

Mr McCormack said the funding was thanks to the sixth round of funding from the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program.

He said more than 60 per cent of the road projects would be undertaken by local councils.

"By upgrading these routes and rolling out supporting infrastructure such as rest stops and parking bays, heavy vehicle operators across the country will enjoy safer, quicker and more productive journeys,” he said.

Under Rounds Four and Five, 135 projects have been funded across Australia with 86 already complete.

Mr McCormack said his main message to every business owner was "your business is our government's business”.

"When business, particularly regional businesses are going well, so is the nation,” he said.

"That's why the Liberal and Nationals' Government is investing heavily in practical measures such as better, safer roads and vehicles, and instituting manageable regulations to help your businesses be the best they can be.”

Australian Trucking Association chief executive officer Ben Maguire said the funding was a "huge win” for the ATA and its member associations.

"For a long time, we have campaigned for improved and more frequent rest areas, and it's extremely rewarding to have locked down such significant funding,” he said.

"Earlier this year, I walked in the shoes of a truck driver and spent the night at a 'best practice' truck rest area in New South Wales.

"The noise was far too loud, and the bathroom facilities were poorly lit. Conditions that would be unacceptable in any other workplace.”

The projects include the construction of a new major heavy vehicle rest area on the Golden Highway, a new heavy vehicle rest area at Young and installation of toilets and furniture at the Yalgoo rest area between Walcha and Uralla.

"Our roads and rest areas are a driver's workplace and we have no chance of resolving fatigue if drivers are not provided with appropriate facilities to ensure a safe journey,” Mr Maguire said.

"Having appropriate rest area facilities for heavy vehicles is not optional. It's not nice to have; it is a fundamental requirement.

"Industry bodies and safety advocates like Rod Hannifey have campaigned on this issue for years, and I am pleased to see the government improving safety for our truck drivers across the country.”

The conference tackled some of the industry's most challenging topics.

Pick up the next edition of Big Rigs for more coverage of the event.

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