Bryan Smith ... feeling the pinch for playing it safe.
Bryan Smith ... feeling the pinch for playing it safe.

Truckies? lives sacrificed

By JOSEPH TERNOWETSKY ? THE owner of a major Rockhampton trucking company says too many drivers are being sacrificed for the bottom line.

Wally Eaglesham, owner of Rocky's Own Transport which employs 90 people including 45 drivers, said ethical trucking companies could not compete with other operators that overwork their staff.

Mr Eaglesham estimates that in the past 10 years he has lost more than $3 million in profits, simply because customers opt for the cheapest deal.

It is all because his company is part of a voluntary fatigue management program designed to protect drivers from overwork.

His comments followed a 60 Minutes television story aired last week on how truckies repeatedly break the rules and risk their lives to meet deadlines. Mr Eaglesham said potential customers created a dangerous trend if they only looked at the bottom line, rather than the results.

"Too many of our nation's drivers are being sacrificed in the interest of the bottom line,'' he said.

"This is outrageous commercial neglect.''

Mr Eaglesham said the Queensland government led the nation in regulating truckies through fatigue management legislation, but more needed to be done. "There are only six accredited fatigue management operators in Queensland,'' he said. These accredited companies struggle to compete against other non-accredited companies because of added compliancy costs. And the problem is getting worse, he said.

"The critical shortage of quality drivers in association with increasing freight volumes is dramatically raising the stakes,'' he said. "Transport companies have got to bite the bullet and strucuture their business accordingly.''

The fatigue management program is a pilot program. It has been in place for ten years and its accredited companies are voluntary. A trucking company can become accredited by proving they are complying with the state standards. Queensland Transport is also currently working on ways to further ensure transport companies are responsible with their staff. Under the proposed new regulations, employers will be forced to take greater responsibility for drivers working for them.



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