Heavy rigid fatal crashes continue to rise

Heavy rigid safety once again thrown into the spotlight following the release of new statistics on fatal crashes

By Brad Gardner | January 28, 2010

Fatal crashes involving articulated trucks have plummeted, while heavy rigid safety has once again been thrown into the spotlight.

The latest figures on fatal heavy vehicle crashes from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics show incidents involving articulated vehicles fell by 18.6 percent during the 12 months to the end of June 2009.

According to the figures, there has been an average 5 percent drop over the three years to June 2009 – a stark contrast to the 11.5 percent climb per year over the three years for heavy rigid fatal crashes.

BITRE’s findings show heavy rigid truck fatal crashes jumped 3.5 percent compared to the previous 12-month period.

"During the 12 months to the end of June 2009, 241 people died from 221 crashes involving heavy trucks or buses," BITRE’s report says.

Although the number of heavy rigid fatal crashes in Victoria fell from 32 to 14 during the year, the figure in Queensland rose by 75 percent from 12 to 21 and by 91.7 percent in Western Australia from 12 to 23.

Deaths from heavy rigids in Western Australia climbed 84.6 percent from 13 deaths to 24 deaths, while the figure in Queensland rose from 15 to 22.

However, the number of articulated fatal crashes in Queensland fell by more than 40 percent from 45 to 26.

The number of deaths from articulated crashes also dropped considerably, with Queensland recording a 38.5 percent drop from 52 to 32 casualties.

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) last year urged operators using rigid trucks to upgrade safety procedures after figures showed a dramatic rise in the number of fatal crashes involving the vehicle.

"Every company that uses heavy rigid trucks needs to take a long, hard look at their safety systems. If they don’t have safety systems, they need to put them in place – fast," ATA Chairman Trevor Martyn said at the time.

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