Former truckie Darren Delaney is channelling his trauma, frustration, and passion for making trucking safer into action as he pursues a study into truck accident investigation.
Too often, the CQUniversity Associate Lecturer and Doctor of Professional Studies candidate has seen his workmates die on the job – and too often, investigators can’t say what caused the death.
“More than 20 years ago, I lost my closest friend and mentor, Frank, to a truck accident. This became the foundation of my research,” Delaney said.
“There are currently 200 fatalities a year. Truckies are 15 times more likely to be killed at work, than any other industry in Australia. I want to help bring these statistics down.”
Delaney recently featured on How to Change a Life, CQUniversity’s podcast that helps listeners transform their lives, as guests share stories of taking a life-changing plunge.
After 13 years behind the steering wheel of a road train and 1.7 million kilometres under his belt, Delaney wants change to start with better crash investigation processes for the $100 billion national transport industry.
“In Australia, there are nine different investigation models, which produce nine different results. Every time you cross a state line, it changes,” he said.
“There are so many discrepancies in the current models, that sometimes, there are no investigation outcomes.”
Delaney hopes to introduce a holistic investigation framework, as a result of his world-first research project.
“The approach includes interviewing key stakeholders within the industry – current investigators, drivers on the road, and operational aspects,” he said.
“By gaining insight into the industry, I can ensure that I generate an informed holistic framework to investigating truck accidents.
“The ultimate goal is to introduce an independent investigation agency that uses the framework [and accompanying legislation] to inform next-generation practice.”
Delaney encourages current truck drivers to get involved in his research, by completing the online survey before August 2021.
“The anonymous survey will help me understand their view of the current accident investigation process,” he said.
“It is also an opportunity for them to provide suggestions into what can be improved; what components need to change in order to discover the true cause of the accident.”
“This research has never been tried anywhere else in the world, so I’m starting from scratch – there’s no international model.”
Delaney hopes ‘driver error’ will soon no longer be a term used in the investigation process.
“This research needs to happen. The term ‘driver error’ is a cop-out,” he said.
Delaney said his extensive driving experience is rare in the world of transport safety research, and gives him a unique perspective.
“In the words of my former operations manager [of a larger trucking company], I am the only one smart enough, dumb enough, and mad enough to pull this off.”
The online survey can be accessed here.