ROCKY ROAD AHEAD: Fraser Livestock Transport’s Ross, Les, and Peter Fraser. Picture: Emily Clooney
ROCKY ROAD AHEAD: Fraser Livestock Transport’s Ross, Les, and Peter Fraser. Picture: Emily Clooney

Freight heavyweights call for investment in truckie safety

WARWICK'S freight and transport heavyweights are calling for urgent government action to make roads safer for truck drivers.

The latest Major Accident Report from National Transport Insurance has revealed that truck driver deaths have spiked in the last year, with 80 per cent of serious car-truck accidents being the car driver's fault.

Fraser Livestock Transport owner Ross Fraser said from what he and his company's drivers had seen on roads across the region, the findings outlined by the report were unsurprising.

"One of the biggest threats to the trucking industry is young, inexperienced people in cars," Mr Fraser said.

"They have very little education in sharing the roads with heavy vehicles, and we need the State and Federal Governments to invest there.

"I think if not for the competency of the truck drivers, we'd be having far more accidents."

Mr Fraser added that while certain sections of the Cunningham Highway remained rough and dangerous, a bigger threat to truckies' safety was the lack of rest stops available.

"There's definitely not enough rest stops for trucks, and it's a serious issue," he said.

"The rest stops that are around, on the various highways in the state and around Australia, and by the time the truckies get there they're full of grey nomads and caravans.

"If truck (drivers) are following the driving regulations that we have to, we have to be able to pull over and stop when the regulations say it's necessary."

Farm & Coastal Holdings transport contractor Ian Wickham agreed, saying car drivers and forced fatigue posed a much graver risk to truckie safety than the roads themselves.

"The roads have never been better, and (government) are constantly doing little bits of work on them," Mr Wickham said.

"Car drivers can be extremely ridiculous, impulsive, and downright dangerous.

"There's certainly not enough rest stops either. If you pull into a rest stop and it's full, you can't just pull up in the middle of the road and go to bed."

Both transport managers agreed that while government education was the best way forward, trucking companies could also take some of their own precautions.

Mr Fraser said that for his company, this would look like the installation of "seeing-eye cameras" in all trucks to monitor and protect drivers from fatigue.

"Some people might think it sounds invasive, but (the camera) just monitors their eyes and not anything else," he said.

"If they look away for more than a few seconds, the driver's seat will vibrate to wake them up and remind them to stop.

"Any serious episodes of that are then reported back to the owner of the company, but otherwise it's not reported."

To safeguard the region's trucking industry on a greater scale, Mr Fraser stressed that government funding would be essential.

"With the disasters that we've had in Australia in the last few months and years, there's possibly limited funds available," Mr Fraser said.

"With the freight task predicted to more than double by about 2030, the number of trucks on the roads is also going to double.

"But, if we don't implement some greater education soon, we're unfortunately going to be looking at even more deaths."

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