Livestock transport safety concerns unwarranted, says peak trucking body


South Australia’s peak trucking body has hit back at a claim by the state’s RSPCA organisation that transport operators are not “recognising their duty of care” towards animal welfare.

In a news release this week picked up by many of the mainstream media, RSPCA SA said it was alarmed at the number of farm animals being injured or killed in truck rollovers and other accidents.

But South Australia Road Transport Assocation (SARTA) executive director Steve Shearer vehemently refutes the claim by RSPCA SA chief inspector Andrew Baker that there is an urgent need for employers to review their training of livestock truck drivers.

“It’s disappointing and insulting to the thousands of livestock transport drivers that the RSPCA suggests that the welfare of the animals is not the top priority when it is,” Shearer said.

“It’s in the interests of the livestock transporters to ensure that livestock is delivered in good condition, because their business survival depends on it.”

RSPCA SA noted that there have been five serious accidents involving livestock trucks on state roads in the past six months, resulting in thousands of cattle, sheep and chickens being either killed or injured so badly that they have had to be euthanased.

The truck drivers in three of these accidents are now facing charges, while police investigations continue into one of the other two accidents, both of which happened last month.

Shearer concedes that any incident that harms livestock is regrettable and the industry and drivers are focused on avoiding them at all costs.

But when you factor in the volumes of livestock being transported – 50,000-plus movements in that six month period – he said it shows the industry is in fact doing an “excellent job.”

“Drivers of livestock transport trucks drive differently from other truck drivers, specifically to avoid rollovers and they even brake more gently to minimise discomfort to the animals,” Shearer added.

“Unfortunately, sometimes, a few other road users do things in front of a truck that forces the truck driver to brake harder than they normally would with livestock on board.”

Shearer also pointed out to mainstream media that the industry works under a number of strict and effective standards and accreditation programs that are focussed on ensuring appropriate animal welfare, namely the national Animal Welfare Standards and the Trucksafe Animal Welfare Accreditation Standards.

He added that the industry has invested in a $500,000 driver training simulator which is progressively being rolled out with specific simulations.

“We are working with the livestock transporters on this.”

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