The up­com­ing 2017 Ma­jor Ac­ci­dent In­ves­ti­ga­tion Re­port has re­vealed the lighter ve­hi­cle was to blame in 93 per­cent of ma­jor crash fa­tal­i­ties, with the road be­hav­iour of young fe­male driv­ers a grow­ing con­cern. Cobey Bar­tels and Rob McKay write

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NA­TIONAL AC­CI­DENT and in­dus­try af­fairs man­ager at Na­tional Trans­port In­surance (NTI), Owen Driscoll, pro­vided an in­sight at this year’s Truck­ing Aus­tralia con­fer­ence into the soon-to-be-re­leased 2017 Ma­jor Ac­ci­dent In­ves­ti­ga­tion

Re­port by the NTI’s Na­tional Truck Ac­ci­dent Re­search Cen­tre (NTARC).

The find­ings na­tion­ally changed lit­tle from the last re­port two years ago, with in­ap­pro­pri­ate speed for the con­di­tions still the lead­ing cause of crashes cost­ing more than $50,000, the tra­di­tional base­line of the statis­tics.

But Driscoll, who was ac­knowl­edged as an icon of the in­dus­try at the 2015 Na­tional Road Trans­port Hall of Fame Re­union, has con­cerns that fa­tiguere­lated crashes at 12.2 per cent of the to­tal were at their worst since ma­jor fa­tigue re­forms were in­tro­duced in 2009.

While there was a noted im­prove­ment with 51 per cent of multi-ve­hi­cle crashes be­ing at­trib­uted to the fault of the heavy ve­hi­cle, 93 per cent of ma­jor crash fa­tal­i­ties were down to er­rors by the lighter ve­hi­cle.

“Shock­ing, shock­ing re­sult from this last re­port as far as third par­ties and who was found to be li­able,” Driscoll says.

He ex­plained that within the 93 per cent of at-fault light-ve­hi­cle driv­ers, a dread­ful per­cent­age were fe­males un­der the age of 21, some­thing he says needs to be ad­dressed.

“Thirty six per cent were fe­males in­volved in fa­tal multi-ve­hi­cle in­ci­dents with heavy ve­hi­cles, 63 per­cent of those

fe­males were un­der 21 … that was

a re­ally tragic statis­tic. We’ve got to look at that … we’ve got to look at li­cens­ing and train­ing … how we teach kids to drive on high­ways, etc.”

Non-im­pact truck and trailer fires re­main a con­cern and Driscoll high­lighted that th­ese ac­count for one in 11 ma­jor claim in­ci­dents, with 65 per cent caused by a fire in the cabin/ en­gine bay re­gion.

Not­ing that it was a strong agenda item for au­thor­i­ties and the NTI at the end of the last decade, Driscoll be­lieves what is needed now is to “re­fo­cus on fa­tigue … with­out rein­vent­ing the wheel, which I think is now start­ing to hap­pen”.

Driscoll be­lieves more should be done to tackle the role and aware­ness of mo­torists re­gard­ing driv­ing be­hav­iour around trucks.

Live­stock in­ci­dents in­creased to 10.2 per cent of re­ported in­ci­dences and the main ac­ci­dent find­ing in­volv­ing an­cil­lary op­er­a­tions was in­ap­pro­pri­ate speed for the con­di­tions with farm­ers and gra­ziers re­spon­si­ble for 27 per cent of ma­jor losses.

Also un­der­lined was the preva­lence of out­bound legs to fea­ture in crashes, at 67.4 per cent.

Though me­chan­i­cal fail­ure weighed in at 3.5 per cent, Driscoll is­sued a warn­ing about the in­creas­ing in­ci­dence of tyre fail­ure, at 52 per cent of the time, due to over- or un­der-in­fla­tion, road con­di­tions, de­fects and other rea­sons. Oth­er­wise the ma­jor me­chan­i­cally associated is­sue was turntable and hoist fail­ure at 31 per cent, due to in­cor­rect cou­pling and wear and tear.

As far as high­ways and roads are con­cerned, the Vic­to­rian sec­tion of the Hume High­way came out on top as the best high­way, while NSW’s Pa­cific High­way was the worst in the na­tion. The Bruce High­way in Queens­land wasn’t far be­hind the Pa­cific with one of the largest in­creases in in­ci­dents in re­cent years.

Driscoll dis­cussed the re­al­ity that the mid­night to dawn pe­riod is when the ma­jor­ity of fa­tigue ac­ci­dents oc­cur.

“As we say from a risk man­age­ment per­spec­tive … if you don’t have to work through the night, don’t be a hero. It’s a waste of time.

“There’s no point turn­ing up to get un­loaded at five o’clock in the morn­ing if they’re not go­ing to un­load you un­til 9 o’clock … think se­ri­ously about op­er­at­ing through the night un­less it’s nec­es­sary; park up.”

The re­port is due to be pub­lished in the com­ing months.

NTI’s Owen Driscoll at he 2017 Truck­ing Aus­tralia con­fer­ence

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