I would like to pay my respects to all families who have lost loved ones through road accidents and road trauma. In the 12 months to December 2020, 1106 people sadly have been killed on our roads.
In March this year alone, there have been 102 road deaths.
Slowing down, protecting every life and getting home safely are some of the features which National Road Safety Week promotes and I encourage you to visit roadsafetyweek.com.au to learn more about the campaign and to make the pledge and lead the way to drive safely for not only your own benefit, but for that of other road users around you.
Safety on our roads and in the transport industry has been front and centre throughout the Senate’s inquiry into the Australian road transport industry which has recently concluded its public hearing schedule.
Since the establishment of the inquiry in 2019, 150 witnesses have appeared before the committee across 11 public hearings around Australia.
Thirty-seven witnesses appeared in their capacity as a truck driver. In total, 128 submissions were received over the course of the inquiry and 58 of those came directly from truck drivers themselves.
I would like to thank everyone who engaged with me and the committee throughout the inquiry. I particularly would like to thank the hundreds of drivers who took the time out of their demanding schedules to write submissions, contact me on social media or give me a call to have a discussion about what they viewed as serious challenges in the road transport industry.
Poor provision of adequate and fit for purpose rest areas, fatigue management, the squeeze from the top of the supply chain, excessive fines for small administrative mistakes in log books, outlandish payment terms, lack of enforcement of award payments and poor rates are all significant factors affecting road safety that have been raised during the inquiry.
They not only have a significant effect on the safety of our truck drivers but also the road users who they share the road with. At the moment, these issues are simply not being addressed.
I look forward to finalising the inquiry report, which will have recommendations for the Government to consider, which should they accept, will assist in ensuring a viable, safe, sustainable and efficient road transport industry in Australia.
About the author: A former truckie himself, Sterle is now the Shadow Assistant Minister for Road Safety and the Labor Senator for WA.