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
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