“rivers of blood”: Australia reaches 1,000 truck crash deaths since LNP abolished road safety tribunal

Transport Workers' Union

The Transport Workers’ Union has demanded urgent Federal action to end deadly pressures in road transport, as the truck crash death toll since the LNP abolished the Road Safety Tribunal in 2016 reaches 1,000 – including 235 truck drivers.

On Saturday, a truck driver died on the Newell Highway in NSW when his truck rolled and caught fire after hitting a tree. His death brings the total number of truck-related fatalities in 2022 to 14.

The terrible milestone comes following a landmark Senate report tabled in August called for a series of reforms to lift standards across the industry. The report – the result of years of consultation between the TWU, industry groups, employers and truck drivers led by WA Senator Glenn Sterle – calls for an independent body to create and enforce minimum standards in road transport.

The Federal Government has so far ignored every recommendation that would address the supply chain pressures making road transport so deadly.

Trucking is Australia’s deadliest industry, with pressures of underpayments, fatigue, speeding, and overloaded trucks linked to the low-cost contracts demanded by wealthy retailers, manufacturers and oil companies at the top of the supply chain.

TWU National Assistant Secretary Nick McIntosh said after almost nine years in office, the Federal Government has only made road transport more dangerous.

“On Scott Morrison’s watch, our highways have become rivers of blood. It’s never been harder for truckies to safely make a decent living, and the crushing pressure from wealthy companies at the top of supply chains has never been more deadly.

“The Federal Government’s own report into the RSRT estimated the watchdog would reduce truck crash fatalities by 28%. That translates to 280 lives that have been needlessly lost since the LNP Government tore down the tribunal.

“Earlier this year, we reported that a truck driver had been killed every 10 days since the road safety tribunal was abolished in 2016. Since the untouched Senate report outlining the regulatory solutions to truck crash deaths was tabled in August, that figure has risen to a truckie killed every 6 days.

“At a time when truckies are crying out for reform, Scott Morrison’s arrogance is on full display. Rather than listening to workers or industry, the Federal Government’s solution is to tinker at the edges by importing truck drivers on visas regularly abused to exploit foreign workers or suggest knee-jerk changes to licensing which we fear will water down training requirements and make Australia’s deadliest industry even more dangerous.

“The Senate report sets out a workable plan to clean up the industry and stop sending truckies and motorists to an early grave. The Federal Government needs to stop its ideological games and implement the recommendations in full.”

Since the Senate report was tabled on 25 August 2021, 71 people have been killed in truck crashes, including 26 truck drivers.

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