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Coronial report recommends tougher health screenings for truckies

coroner

Tougher health screenings for truckies, incentives for autonomous emergency braking and fatigue sensor systems in trucks.

Those are the three main recommendations for the industry from the final coronial report into the tragic death of four-year-old Blake Corney in 2018.

Blake died of catastrophic head injuries when a truck ploughed into his family’s car as they waited at the lights on the Monaro Highway.

The truck driver, Akis Livas, pleaded guilty to culpable driving causing death, and was sentenced to more than three years in jail.

Livas had been referred to a sleep laboratory, with suspected sleep apnoea at least twice in the years before the crash, but had not followed up the referrals.

After the accident, he was diagnosed with severe obstructive sleep apnoea.

At the time, the doctor noted that he “should not be operating a motor vehicle or heavy machinery until his severe obstructive sleep apnoea is adequately treated and he can demonstrate compliance to CPAP therapy”.

Coroner Lorraine Walker said the the ACT government should make it mandatory for doctors to report health issues likely to have an impact on a professional driver to licensing authorities.

Coroner Walker also suggested better information sharing of health records.

The inquest also considered autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and fatigue detection technologies.

“Had Mr Livas been driving a truck with an AEB fitted, Blake may still be alive today,” she said.

Coroner Walker urged the ACT government to introduce incentives for truck owners to install the systems, which are widely used overseas.

The report also recommended that the Australian Trucking Association be provided with a copy of the findings and be invited to deliver training and education to its members and member associations addressing:

    1. the need for drivers and employers to obtain all information about a driver’s medical and driving history which may be relevant to a driver’s suitability to drive a heavy vehicle; and
    2. the availability of collision avoidance technologies including AEB and fatigue detection and distraction technology, and the potential benefits in voluntary adoption of such technologies.
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