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Keeping safe on the road this Easter

With every Australian state and territory border open this Easter for the first time in two years, and large numbers of travellers heading onto the roads, PACCAR Parts urges truck drivers to play it safe during what is expected to be a busy holiday period.

“PACCAR Parts is a strong advocate for a safe and efficient Australian trucking industry and we are committed to helping raise awareness of important extra steps you can make to maintain your safety on the road,” said PACCAR Parts general manager Damian Smethurst. 

Australia’s leading specialist insurer NTI shares PACCAR Parts’ vision for making the Australian road transport industry a safer place to work, demonstrating this commitment through its annual NTARC Major Accident Investigation Report.

The 2021 report covers major transport incidents that occurred involving NTI insured vehicles in 2020 and contains several key findings: 

• The frequency of crashes over $50,000 involving heavy vehicles declined in 2020, likely due to a reduction in traffic volumes during the pandemic.

• 31 truck occupant crash fatalities were recorded, down from a staggering 53 in 2019. 

• Crashes caused by inappropriate speed and driver error continue to increase, with over half (54.5 per cent) of all serious crashes caused by these two factors.

• Crashes caused by fatigue dropped to the lowest proportion in the nearly 20-year history of the NTARC report (8 per cent). Despite this, fatigue remained the largest cause of crashes with truck driver fatalities. 

Smethurst urged drivers and operators to give this final point extra consideration ahead of the Easter period. 

NTI transport and logistics risk engineer and NTARC report author Adam Gibson said there is a hesitancy amongst drivers to get tested.

“We know that holiday periods bring increased pressure on transport, with increased consumer demand and traffic volumes, combined with holiday and family pressures contributing to the ‘whole of life’ workload for drivers,” he said.  

NTI transport and logistics risk engineer and NTARC report author Adam Gibson said there are several factors which contribute to fatigue crashes. 

“The leading cause of truck driver fatalities is fatigue, with just under 40 per cent of fatal crashes being a result of this. Underlying that is a range of complex factors but one of them is access to sufficient quantity and quality of sleep,” he said.

“There’s research that suggests over 40 per cent of truck drivers have obstructive sleep apnea. This is obviously deeply concerning, given that we know the condition is eminently treatable, but when untreated creates an elevated risk of fatigue.”

Gibson said there is a hesitancy among some drivers to get tested, with the lack of industry discussion on the topic prompting NTI to partner with sleep and respiratory heath expert, Dr Robert Adams.   

“It’s not as simple as telling drivers they need to sleep more; sleep apnea is a medical condition, and it requires medical treatment,” he said.  

Gibson pointed to a new health advisory brochure developed in collaboration with Dr Adams that is designed to help drivers identify the signs of sleep apnea, and provide suggestions on how to get tested. 

“Fatigue is a known killer, so this Easter be sure to take your mandatory rest breaks, avoid driving if tired, be careful on your first shift back, and check out NTI’s sleep apnea infographic via the link below. It could save your life,” said Smethurst. 

For more information visit nti.com.au/better-business-hub/resources/sleep-apnea-signs-and-solutions.

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