A transport union has claimed that road transport is Australia’s most dangerous industry following a crash at Woodburn at the weekend which resulted in two deaths.
The Transport Workers Union national secretary Tony Sheldon said there had been nine deaths on the Pacific Highway this year in accidents involving trucks in New South Wales.
Mr Sheldon said it was evidence that economic pressures on truck drivers to speed or skip breaks to meet unrealistic deadlines was taking its toll.
He made the comments following the Woodburn crash, which involved a southbound B-double and two cars. Two people were killed and the crash remains under investigation.
‘But we’re seeing more and more truck crashes as a result of speeding, fatigue and poor maintenance – many caused by transport clients setting unrealistic deadlines and keeping vehicles on the road too long,’ he said.
‘A 2012 survey showed 46 per cent of drivers in one major supply chain – Coles – face economic pressure to skip rest breaks and 26 per cent have to speed to meet delivery deadlines.
‘It’s time to end pressure on drivers through action in the road safety remuneration tribunal, which sets safe rates of pay and conditions in road transport,’ he said.
Mr Sheldon said the federal government was reviewing the tribunal with a view to closing it.
‘If this occurs we will see even tighter deadlines, worse maintenance and more economic pressure on drivers.
‘And that can only mean more truck crashes and deaths on our roads.’
Mr Sheldon said the federal government’s decision to ‘review’ the tribunal came after closed door meetings, and $1.2 million in political donations from major transport client Coles.
‘Some government MP’s have described the tribunal as red tape,’ Mr Sheldon said.
‘Our message to the government is that road safety is not red tape.
‘No one wants to risk their own or anyone else’s life.’
Meanwhile, police are urging anyone with information about the Woodburn crash to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
The accident involved a B-double truck, a four-wheel-drive vehicle and a large dual-cab ute.
The driver of the ute, a 41-year-old man, and the passenger of the 4WD, a 72-year-old woman, died at the scene.
A 34-year-old woman, who was the front seat passenger of the ute, was airlifted to Gold Coast Hospital in a critical condition, while 4WD driver, a 69-year-old man, was taken to a local hospital with non life-threatening injuries.
Three children from the ute were taken to hospital with minor injuries.
The 50-year-old truck driver was not injured but was taken to Lismore Base Hospital where he underwent mandatory blood and urine testing.
Police from Richmond Local Area Command and the Crash Investigation Unit are investigating the circumstances surrounding the crash.
Earlier this year in March, a truck driver died after hitting a crossover barrier and jackknifing his prime mover near Ballina.