Industry’s safety performance continues to improve, finds study

A review of almost two decades of truck accident data has revealed a vast improvement in the industry’s safety performance, according to Australia’s largest logistics and transport specialist insurer.

In its just-released 2022 Major Accident Report from its National Truck Accident Research Centre (NTARC), NTI analyses trends since 2005.

It found while there’s been a 55 per cent increase in the number of trucks on the road and a 51 per cent rise in road freight volumes, the rate of serious truck accidents has not followed this trend.

Report author since 2019, Adam Gibson, said the data shows a combination of tighter government regulation and industry investment in safety, technology, professional development and leadership has improved road safety.

“We saw, for example, fatigue-related crashes fall by a massive 50 per cent the year after driving hours reforms and standardised logbooks were introduced,” Gibson said.

“They dropped from a high of 27.3 per cent in 2008 to a low of 8 per cent in 2020.”

The other key improvement was in crashes caused by inappropriate speed for the conditions.

“In 2009, inappropriate speed was the cause of almost one third of crashes (31.8 per cent) but encouragingly, that dropped to a record low of 12.5 per cent last year. That’s likely related to Chain of Responsibility laws coupled with new safety technologies, including electronic braking systems (EBS) and electronic stability control (ESC).”

Gibson said outside of these positive trends, what remains as opportunities for improvement are driver error, inappropriate speed and fatigue.

“Our data helps address what we need to change in drivers’ working environments to better support them and to deliver safer outcomes.”

NTI’s chief sustainability officer Chris Hogarty said the industry and its supporting bodies have been transformative through working together and shifting to a safer and more sustainable way of operating.

“The Australian transport and logistics industry has made considerable progress nearing the last two decades. We are committed to sustaining the momentum and creating safer conditions for all road users,” he said.

NHVR acting chief regulatory policy and standards officer Ray Hassall said while the safety improvements show industry’s effort in prioritising safety in the workplace and on the road – there is still more work to do.

“Tragically safety risks such as driver distraction, speed, inappropriate vehicle positioning and following distances continue to cause crashes resulting in serious injuries and fatalities on our roads,” he said.

“In the lead up to the busiest season on our roads, I urge everyone to do their part and remember to rest, never speed, and always give heavy vehicles space, to keep you safe.”

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