Rise in heavy rigid crashes prompts safety re-think

Heavy rigid operators urged to upgrade safety systems, amid steep rise in fatal accidents

Transport companies operating heavy rigid trucks are being urged to upgrade safety procedures, with an alarmingly steep rise in fatal accidents involving the vehicles.

According to figures recently released by the federal transport department, fatal crashes involving rigid trucks rose from 78 in 2007 to 90 in 2008.

Australian Trucking Association (ATA) Chairman Trevor Martyn says operators need to make sure drivers are fit and ready to drive, realistic delivery times are set and systems are in place to train drivers and staff properly on safety issues.

"Every company that uses heavy rigid trucks needs to take a long, hard look at their safety systems," he says.

"If they don’t have safety systems, they need to put them in place."

But the ATA has also called on governments to do more to improve safety on the nation’s roads, saying better roads and motorist education are key to saving lives.

"More than 70 percent of the heavy rigid truck crashes in 2008 were multiple vehicle accidents. A substantial number would have been in urban areas," Martyn says.

"As part of building a safer transport system, governments need to build better roads that allow trucks and cars to drive safely together, with well-planned intersections, right turn lanes long enough for trucks and reduced speed limits in areas where many trucks turn across traffic."

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