Facts from fiction
The TWU’s submission to the Staysafe Committee is merely the rehashing of a flawed argument
THE NEW SOUTH WALES Staysafe Committee has a current inquiry underway into heavy vehicle safety and the use of technology to improve road safety. The inquiry has stirred a large amount of debate on the safety of heavy vehicles. A submission was made by the Transport Workers’ Union of NSW (TWU). The TWU has re-hashed a flawed argument based on non-conclusive studies that point to alleged “risky behaviours” by drivers.
NatRoad has consistently opposed the TWU position, especially the claim that there is a link between safety and rates of pay.
Prescribed minimum rates of pay which are only legislated for one part of the sector are unfair and discriminatory and don’t assist road safety.
There is a link between truck driver pay rates and road safety outcomes
There is no evidence of a link between remuneration and safety. Inquiries by two independent bodies – the Productivity Commission and the Small Business Ombudsman – both found that regulating rates of pay for owner drivers does not improve safety. During its investigation, the Small Business Ombudsman heard that the prescription of pay rates through the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT) not only led to business closures, but caused such emotional harm to hard-working small business owners that some took their own lives. Resources reallocated from the now- abolished RSRT to the NHVR are being used for road safety initiatives.
Key factors such as speeding, fatigue, poor vehicle maintenance etc. contribute to poor safety outcomes
The rise in fatalities involving trucks in NSW is an isolated trend as Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania, which are governed by the same fatigue laws, have seen a decline in these numbers. The latest National Truck Accident Research Centre analysis* found that mechanical failures were not the main cause of heavy vehicle accidents with a low incident level of 3.5 per cent. There is a need for further investigation into the NSW crashes to find out the exact cause for the increase in that state compared with the other states.
Heavy vehicle drivers are incentivised or forced to engage in risky behaviours owing to economic pressures.
The NTARC analysis found that in collisions involving fatalities, 93 per cent of the time the truck driver was not at fault. This is not reflective of a culture of “risky behaviours” and undermines the claim made by TWU.
Drivers are forced to compromise on safety because of strict compliance guidelines by companies and operators. Only drivers are held accountable in case of any accidents
Strengthening of chain of responsibility (COR) laws**, starting this year, recognise that all parties involved in the supply chain are held accountable for the safety of transport activities. COR laws prohibit requests and contracts that would cause a driver or chain of responsibility party to compromise on critical safety measures such as fatigue requirements or speed limits. These changes are widely supported by the road transport industry.
It is important that the Staysafe Committee consider the facts when assessing submissions to the inquiry, and reject arguments put forward by the TWU that are not backed up by evidence.
“In collisions involving fatalities, 93 per cent of the time the truck driver was not at fault”