Facts from fic­tion

The TWU’s sub­mis­sion to the Staysafe Com­mit­tee is merely the re­hash­ing of a flawed ar­gu­ment

Owner Driver - - Natroad -

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.

TWU claims:

There is a link be­tween truck driver pay rates and road safety outcomes

The facts:

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.

TWU claims:

Key fac­tors such as speed­ing, fa­tigue, poor ve­hi­cle main­te­nance etc. con­trib­ute to poor safety outcomes

The facts:

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.

TWU claims:

Heavy ve­hi­cle driv­ers are in­cen­tivised or forced to en­gage in risky be­hav­iours ow­ing to eco­nomic pres­sures.

The facts:

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.

TWU claims:

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

The facts:

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”

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