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Shock remarks from Minister spark debate

UPDATE:  NSW Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey has clarified her earlier remarks on electrified fatigue devices for truckies that were broadcast on ABC Mornings Sydney. 

In a statement to the media, a spokesperson for the Minister said the comment was made as part of an announcement on new forms of technology, and accused the TWU of playing politics. 

"I am both disgusted and appalled that today of all days the Transport Workers Union would play this kind of politics.  

"Today, we announced investment into the research of new forms of technology to increase road safety, including autonomous braking," the statement from the Minister read.   

"I spoke on other forms of technology being looked at in both the private and public sectors - specifically important measures around fatigue management.   

"New technology for fatigue management are currently in place in Australia and being rolled out across fleets by our most responsible operators, and further research continues to highlight new measures.  

"Despite these advancements, and the possibility of measures which will save both truck driver's lives and protect the whole community, the TWU want to make headlines about themselves," she said. 

The announcement from the Minister was a $1.6 Million increase in funding for Crashlab to enhance local crash test capability to assist with independent testing of autonomous vehicle safety technologies.

2PM: PUTTING the current into current affairs, NSW Minister for Roads Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey has shocked truck drivers this morning with suggestions technology delivering an electric jolt may benefit road safety.   

In an ABC Radio News bulletin broadcast across NSW, Minister Pavey has suggested that technology, is the answer to improving road safety on NSW roads.     

"[T]he technology now is so advanced, a driver can be driving and get an electric shock if they  look away from the windscreen for more than two seconds," Minister Pavey said, on the ABC Radio News 7:45am Bulletin this morning.  

The comments aired sparked a response from the NSW branch of the Transport Workers Union, who labeled the statement as 'heartless, arrogant and completely incompetent".     

"NSW Roads Minister Melinda Pavey's comments this morning, regarding the tragic deaths of five people in truck-related accidents in only 24 hours, are heartless, arrogant and completely incompetent," the statement read.

WHAT HAS GONE WRONG ON NSW ROADS?

TWO DEAD, THREE TRAPPED IN HORROR SMASH 

 Alternatively the Union argues the cause of the majority of truck-related accidents is not due to drivers, but extreme and unfair working conditions.  

Richard Olsen, State Secretary of the Transport Workers' Union of NSW, says TWU members know that that the responsibility for safety on NSW roads is a shared one.   

"The necessary shared responsibility isn't being demonstrated by companies and government. Instead of blaming drivers, the Minister must ensure that all levels of the supply chain take responsibility. Her continued lack of leadership on this issue, while people continue to die on our roads, is shameful."   

"This week alone, three truck drivers have died on the job, and the lives of two car drivers have also been lost," he said.   

"To not only ignore the actual problems that are killing people on our roads, but to also propose electrocuting people driving heavy vehicles, is not only baffling and deeply offensive to the families of those killed, it is also unconscionably dangerous in its negligence," he said.   

Topics:  nsw policy road safety transport and infrastructure

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