Opinion

Access is a key issue for the transport industry

Unless you’ve been living under the proverbial rock, you’d know we’re heading to the polling booth in just under a week. 

Federal elections often mean politicians wearing hard hats and kissing babies. Fortunately, they also spark conversations about Australia’s policy direction. 

For our industry, policy is the key to our future and improving the safety of our roads.  

In fact, policy was the hot topic of conversation at this month’s Trucking Australia 2022 conference, which saw delegates travel from Australia and New Zealand. 

Our 2022 election policy charter was discussed in detail and received widespread support.

We know the policy charter is ambitious. Our aspirational road safety target of a 25 per cent reduction per year in crashes involving trucks is a bold one. 

However, we believe it’s possible if the following is achieved:

• 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.

• a maximum 100km/h speed limit for all road users everywhere in Australia. Trucks are already speed limited at 100km/h.

We’re also advocating for a well maintained, truly national highway network. One that is resilient to frequent natural disasters and which enables access for high productivity freight vehicles.

Access is a key issue for the transport industry. 

Every year, trucking businesses lodge 44,000 applications to use roads. It’s onerous and illogical.

The Tasmanian road access system shows it is possible to reduce this pointless paperwork by 95 per cent. A policy reset by the Australian government would get same results nationally.

The ATA’s draft Road Transport Act attracted a lot of discussion at the Trucking Australia conference on the Gold Coast, especially the recommendation that work diaries be abolished.  

The draft Act has a number of important proposals, including key measures to tackle fatigue management. Under the draft policy, every business operating trucks would need to address driver fatigue in its safety management system (SMS). 

The regulations would set out maximum work hours for non-certified businesses.

Certified businesses could exceed that level with appropriate risk controls.

Businesses would be required to keep records of driver work hours. They would not need to use official work diaries. Minor fatigue/work diary offences would be eliminated.

Long term fitness for duty would be handled through the licensing system. All heavy vehicle drivers would be required to have regular medicals against fit for purpose medical standards.

You can see our presentation about the draft policy charter at truck.net.au.

  • David Smith is Chair of the Australian Trucking Association
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