Tragic SA accident adds new weight to argument
WHEN does it stop? When does the rushing to judgement stop and independent accident investigation begin in our industry?
When does human decency extend to the family of truck drivers involved in fatal accidents?
When do those who have no idea about the trucking industry, how to drive a heavy vehicle or the life of a truck driver learn to keep their mouths shut and their fingers off the keyboard?
I am not just talking about the recent SA accident where two very unfortunate drivers were killed during a horrific dust storm, because it has been happening for years.
As several of our associations have campaigned for some time, heavy vehicle accidents should be investigated by an organisation like the National Transportation Safety Board - then impartial judgements and proper recommendations can be made for better safety outcomes.
If an independent body were to investigate and findings were made public, it might lead to a better understanding outside the industry of the cause of the accidents and more will be done to prevent them.
This can only take place once the authorities accept the statistics and provide for reforms and safety initiatives.
This could include better training for other types of vehicles and greater public awareness campaigns about road sharing between all road users, and an understanding of the needs of the heavy vehicle industry.
This must be part of the training and licensing requirements when you obtain your licence. We are continually advocating for and getting better training for truck drivers but I have yet to see better training for other vehicle drivers.
We need to make this happen sooner rather than later.
The reforms needed for our industry may seem to be many but if we put them into perspective, they are few.
They include but are not confined to:
Independent accident investigations where a fatality has occurred
More flexible fatigue regimes
Improved (and more) rest areas and facilities for truck drivers
Better training for everyone around sharing the road
More comprehensive pre-licensing training; especially for new drivers
Better communication between the regulatory bodies, the enforcement personnel, the industry and the media
We have made so much progress over the past few years with the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator and the National Transport Commission being so available and so open to engaging with the industry, we have an amazing opportunity to achieve some of these reforms if we move on it now.
Then we need to mount a concerted image campaign and we might have an industry that is seen in a much more favourable way than it is at present.