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Time to hit reset on road safety and productivity, says ATA

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The next government must reset Australia’s approach to road safety and productivity, said David Smith, chair of the Australian Trucking Association (ATA).

In a statement to launch the ATA’s 2022 federal election policy charter, Smith said the number of crashes involving trucks is falling, thanks to the work of the industry and governments.

“But it won’t be acceptable until there are zero deaths and zero injuries on our roads,” Smith added.

“The ATA is calling for a dramatic improvement in road safety, with an aspirational target: a 25 per cent reduction per year in crashes involving trucks, once the measures we propose get started.”

The charter puts forward a policy reset to achieve this goal, including—

  • the Australian government funding and operating all major freight roads
  • a 10 year, $5 billion truck roads and rest area program, so truck drivers always have a safe place to stop
  • continued full expensing for trucks and trailers to increase the use of newer and safer trucks
  • air crash style investigations of truck crashes where there are lessons to be learned.

“The ATA’s policy charter also calls for a dramatic improvement in the industry’s productivity and the elimination of red tape,” said Smith.

“At present, trucking businesses need to lodge 44,000 applications per year to use roads that were built to be used. It’s wasteful, costly and time consuming.

“The Tasmanian road access system shows it is possible to reduce this pointless paperwork by 95 per cent.”

Smith said a policy reset by the Australian government would get the same results nationally.

“In conjunction with ambitious access rules for the National Land Freight Network, the trucking industry could deliver our share of Australia’s freight in fewer trips. This would keep the cost of living down for everyone and reduce costs for our exporters,” he said.

Smith slammed the government’s decision to halve fuel tax for light vehicle owners for the next six months. The effective tax reduction for trucking businesses is 4.3 cents per litre, not 22.1 cents per litre.

“The government’s approach to fuel tax has caused confusion for our customers, who are surprised and dismayed when we tell them that the headline figure does not apply to trucks. It will also cause huge cash flow problems for many small trucking businesses,” he said.

“As our charter points out, the current model for setting truck registration charges and the road user charge on fuel is broken. We need a different approach.”

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