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Byron Shire
April 23, 2021

Woodburn crash prompts transport union warning

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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.

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  1. State Government, listen up! THIS is why we NEED rail transport – this is why many of us would CHOOSE to patronise a rail service in this area – we not only “want” to be able to travel safely, we NEED to be able to travel safely!

  2. For as long as it remains legal to include time limitation penalty provisions into delivery contracts this will keep happening. If it is financial penalties in contracts that is driving dangerous work practices then the financial penalty for including them, in writing or orally, has to be greater. As the bloke said ‘No one wants to risk their own or anyone else’s life.’ So remove the incentive.

  3. This is a tragedy but who said the truck was in the wrong? It is not always the truck drivers fault. We were nearly cleaned up on the same section of road by a car towing a caravan that couldnt take a corner and crossed the lines
    People should apply for a special licence before they tow a caravan just the way a truck driver has too. Some of the vans are ridiculously long

  4. I don’t know if anyone else has experienced this but I have on several occasions. The Pacific Highway from the top of Byron Bay to Woodburn is a nightmare at night because of the truck. I tend to drive at the speed limit and every single trip I have trucks tailgating and practicing unsafe driving. I’ve had a few try to run me off the road because I tap my break to politely ask them to stop tailgating. Another thing that has happened is I’ve had two trucks one in front and one in back block me in as if it was a game to them. Pretty much all the truck are speeding with heavy loads. Sure the deadlines and possible loss of income can stress a driver out but it’s their decision on how to deal with it. They shouldn’t take it out on other drivers that choose to drive the speed limit. I’m not sure why there are not more police targeting unsafe truck drivers. I’ve called in on the unsafe driving to warn the police of this and they said they would notify the police in the direction the truck is traveling which I am grateful for. It really is disturbing to see a big grill in your back window with high beams on when it’s raining. It’s very intimidating to have a large vehicle like that less than 3 metres from the back of your car. I am not going to speed to appease a truck driver that wants to and think they can because they are bigger than me. I don’t slow down or do anything else that might upset them as they seem to go agro to easily for my liking.

    • I agree Bazza, I have had the same thing happen to me, even followed a truck to report the rego number & the police said they have to see the driver break the law to do anything, so what’s the point of that, something needs to be done, get the freight back on the trains I say

    • I have experienced exactly the same treatment. Everytime I have been on the pacific highway at night the same pattern has repeated itself. It is obvious that a large number of truck drivers are no more than cowboy
      bullies but like you I refuse to be intimidated by this type of behaviour.
      It is so easy to lose your licence these days going a little over in a 40 or 60 zone especially when there is a constant change of speed limits. The police seems to be only interested in targetting motorists but not trucks. Who is behind this outrageous state of affairs? I would not be surprised if the truth comes out one day identifying culprits both in government and the RTA.
      I think though that we should take steps to have this kind of favouritism stop immediately.

  5. When are people gonna get it? WE NEED TRAINS!!!!!!! Doesn’t matter how good rail trails might be, but we NEED TRAINS URGENTLY!!!!!!!!
    Our Region can’t go on like this! The whole argument of ‘more roads’ just makes everything worse! I think for some people, it’s gonna take them to get their best mate killed before they can start expanding their minds to things like trains. Get the freight on rail, means less deaths, less fotogue on our roads and more!
    Also, get passengers on trains, because that means even LESS stress on our roads, meaning the Northern Rivers is a safe and happy place!.

  6. The road transport industry has the state government in hock through political donations.so the police have been nobbled to make life easier for the trucking companies. These same trucking companies screw their drivers, compromising safety, There is only one solution : trucks, especially B-Doubles, must be driven off our highways.


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