Our roads are killing our drivers

Our government wants us to be more careful, to fill out endless paperwork, to create huge procedures all aimed at ‘zero road deaths’ without any repercussions or responsibilities for them. They seem to think that we cause all the suffering and trauma. But what about their responsibilities?

I’ve driven and owned trucks for the best part of 50 years. My AIR CTI business needed a full size truck and the Brisbane Truck Show was a great place to display our product. Hence, we drove the 2000km to Brisbane via the Cann River, up the Monaro Highway, through the ACT, onto the M1, past Sydney to Coffs for the Waste Management Conference. Then onto Brisbane via a horrible connecting road to the A1 highway.

My back was painful. The increased height and stiffness of my T350, and the horrible roads, especially in Victoria, and in the lesser NSW and Queensland roads, caused the cab to shake violently side to side. It felt like I was in a washing machine. 

The return trip was equally painful. From Toowoomba to Goondiwindi was horrible. The Newell has improved but is only ‘just’ a road. We wobbled and shook down past Wagga, Albury, Healesville and finally home. It was all I could do to get out of bed the next morning.  A week later and I’m still hobbling around.

I have been writing about the damage of high vibration for years. Whole body vibration is a serious issue in the northern hemisphere. Both the EU and the USA have halved the road roughness standards. The EU even fined one European country for excessively rough roads!

But our great Australian government refuses to accept that our roads are our workplace.  The Chain of Responsibility (COR) laws say they are responsible. Rough roads are killing our drivers. Rough roads are damaging our drivers’ health, causing huge suffering. When are our governments going to realise that safe roads are essential?

Our roads suck. Depending upon the source, 35 to 42 countries have better roads.   Swaziland has better roads. What is going on here?

There is an Australian Road Roughness Standard, but it is a lot rougher than world standards. And 80 per cent of Victorian roads don’t even meet our poor road standard requirements. What is going on?

I attended a conference in Scotland over ten years ago, where the Rodex III report on ‘Health Issues Raised by Poorly Maintained Road Networks’ proved the damage that rough roads and whole body vibration does to truck drivers. The damage starts at the eyes and goes through to the brain, the skeletal system, the stomach and the circulation system.   This seems pretty important to me. My trip in a full size prime mover drove this point home.

Work Safe Australia even has a whole body vibration info sheet that is two pages long. My company wrote a 120-page white paper on the subject several years ago too. I constantly present this information to our politicians and the NHVR, with little to no interest.

I’m fed up. Where are our trade unions? Where are our trucking associations? Where are our health experts? What are they doing? Do they care about our essential employees, friends and family?

There should be a class action to force our governments into providing decent safe roads.   COR laws should apply to our governments too. Road safety is also their responsibility.

All we get are excuses. Or, as with Victoria, they only care about Melbourne roads. Or they use fancy financial details to increase our fuel taxes and our rego.

Good roads benefit every Australian. Every Aussie travels on our roads. Every Aussie eats food, uses toilet paper, lives in buildings and enjoys all the goods that we truck people distribute. Every Australian benefits from good roads. Charging big trucks for road costs is simply thievery. Not providing good safe roads is criminal. Killing and hurting people because their work involves travelling on our poor roads is simply disgusting.

Bad roads damage our trucks, increase the costs of transport, increase fuel use, increase maintenance and damages our drivers. Bad roads are bad business. Why aren’t our big fleets pushing more for better roads to lower their costs?

Bad roads increase CO2 emissions, damage our environment and potentially damage our world. Where is the ‘green’ industry?  Bad roads increase fuel use by 6 to 8 per cent. That is a lot of CO2. Bad roads shorten the life of tyres and trucks. A lot of electricity and raw materials are wasted because of bad roads. Does the green industry care? I don’t hear them.

They tell us we are a big country.  “We can’t afford decent roads.” Bull… Ninety percent of Aussies live within a couple of hundred kilometres of the ocean, a few hundred kilometres covers Perth and Adelaide, and then from Melbourne up past Brisbane. That is where 90 per cent of our trucking is. That is affordable. In fact, we can’t afford to not fix our roads. The suffering, the shortened life expectancy and the loss of employment and income is creating havoc throughout our industry. We can’t get drivers. Who would want to be shaken to pieces and harassed by every government inspector, fined for tiny infringements, put off the road or worse?

And inflate your tyres to suit the load. Over inflation simply amplifies road roughness. AIR CTI should be on every truck.

We need decent roads interconnecting our major cities and areas, not goat tracks.

Write to your politicians. Contact your unions. Stir up your transport associations. Demand that our roads meet international road standards. We are not third world. We should not put up with the suffering and shortened life. Let’s make truck driving safe and more efficient. Demand that your representatives prioritise roads and road safety.

Tyre pressure is the only suspension system you can control. Fit AIR CTI to dial in the correct pressure for the load and the road to reduce vibration.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend