The Senate road transport industry inquiry should focus on direct, practical safety measures, the CEO of the Australian Trucking Association, Andrew McKellar, said today.
McKellar was giving evidence before the inquiry in Canberra this week.
“More than 1,100 people were killed on Australia’s roads in 2020, 170 of which were killed in crashes involving trucks,” McKellar said.
“Governments must press on with the safe systems approach and its central pillars of safe speeds, safe roads, safe vehicles and safe people.”
The ATA submission to the inquiry calls for changes to the assessment of road projects to make safety a priority, as well as requiring that truck rest areas meet Austroads rest area guidelines.
“Building better roads does have a profound impact on safety. The upgrade of the Pacific Highway, to take an example, has seen fatal crashes decline from more than 40 a year to around 20 a year,” he said.
The ATA submission highlights the importance of mandating advanced emergency braking for new trucks, together with electronic stability control for new rigid trucks.
“One of the biggest obstacles to accelerating the rollout of new vehicle safety technology is the resourcing and capacity of the vehicle standards area in the department. We urge the committee to recommend that funding for the development of vehicle standards should be increased,” he said.
McKellar said the ATA had also devoted an enormous amount of effort to reforming the trucking industry’s safety rules.
“The Heavy Vehicle National Law now includes strong safety duties and multi-million dollar penalties for companies that breach them. These rules apply to the industry’s customers as well as to trucking businesses,” he said.
McKellar said the ATA has a strong focus on simplifying existing fatigue rules, including widening truck sleeper cabs.
“Our members have also told us that truck sleeper cabs need to be wider,” McKellar said.
“Under the design rules, a sleeper cab can be as narrow as 53 centimetres. That’s not effective.
“We have proposed a regulatory incentive to encourage the installation of sleeper cabs up to 1.3 metres wide. We supported this proposal with a detailed engineering analysis. It’s feasible and needs to be done.”