A horrific truck crash in Victoria close to the SA border shows the need for a national plan on border closures, said the Transport Workers’ Union.
A truck driver is dead following the crash which saw three trucks go on fire. The TWU wants to see specific lanes for trucks automatically set up before borders are closed to allow truckies to continue their essential work without being forced to risk driving while fatigue.
TWU SA/NT Branch Secretary Ian Smith said reports of trucks backed up at the border last night are disturbing and may have contributed to the crash.
“This crash is an absolute tragedy that could have been avoided with proper consultation and notice. This once again highlights the urgent need for consultation with key industry stakeholders to avoid such circumstances from happening in the future. Hard border closures need to be implemented properly and the Marshall Governments’ knee-jerk response shows a lack of understanding of the industry. If the Federal Government continues to turn their back on truckies and refuse to come to the table to develop a national plan for border closures, it’s only matter of time before we see more tragedy on our roads,” said Smith
TWU Victorian and Tasmanian Branch Secretary John Berger said truck drivers as essential workers are left to deal with the chaos of each border closure and this must stop.
“Having truck drivers stuck for hours at borders each time there is a COVID outbreak is not acceptable. It is clear we will have to live with COVID for some time yet, therefore it is vital that a national plan is put in place to protect truckies and other road users. Fatigue is a major killer in our industry and it is abhorrent that drivers are being forced to work fatigued all because the Federal Government won’t put in place clear guidelines on border closures,” Berger said.
The TWU also wants to see a national plan on borders to include:
· Border closures implemented during daylight hours and with adequate notice, to minimise risk association with peak freight times
· Assurances that truck stops will stay open so that drivers can still access rest areas for food and showers.
· Assurances that showers and rest areas at truck stops for truck drivers will be cleaned and disinfected adequately
· Clarity that trucks will still be allowed to cross state borders and that truck drivers will be exempt from self-isolation requirements
· Clarity about any measures in place at border crossings to check trucks and truck drivers crossing, whether this includes temperature checks on drivers, logbook checks and more
· Assurances that truck drivers will be supplied at these border crossing with hand sanitisers, masks, gloves and information
· Clarity on any measures in place for truck drivers when they enter states to protect themselves and others
· Assistance in ensuring that clients pay owner drivers and transport operators on time.
· Assurances that owner drivers who are in financial distress are given financial assistance