Roads aren't safe for trucks: NRMA

Governments cop whack over the state of the roads, with the NRMA saying they are not good enough for truckies

NRMA President Wendy Machin says government is not doing enough to make roads safe for trucks following the release of the group's latest report.

On the back of the well known forecast of freight movements doubling by 2020, Machin says the "$16 million program to improve the inadequate number and quality of truck rest areas" is not enough.

She says safer trucks, a safer road network, improved truck rest area facilities and more awareness among motorists on how to share the roads safely with heavy vehicles were needed to reduce the number of crashes on NSW roads.

Since 2007 the NRMA has been advocating for heavy vehicles and trailers to have front, side and rear under-run barriers, tamper-proof on-board monitoring to provide feedback on vehicle operations and electronic stability control to be fitted in a bid to help drivers maintain control and protect motorists from truck collisions.

"The only truck safety measure recommended by the NRMA to have been addressed by the Government in the last two years of campaigning is the front under-run protection systems (FUPS)," Machin says.

The latest NRMA report says the 300 deaths annually in the road transport industry cost the economy $2 billion each year and it should serve as a warning to business and the community that industry-wide change was urgent.

Transport Workers Union (TWU) National Secretary Tony Sheldon backs Machin and says it's time to invest in long-term safety measures.

"There are a lot of drivers on the road who do not realise what truck drivers have to deal with, including braking distances and blind-spots on trucks," he says.

He says there needs to be increased training for drivers.

However, Sheldon has broken ranks with the NRMA on its call for electronic safety systems to monior drivers' behaviour.

He says behaviour is dictated by economic pressure from clients.

Sheldon used the release of the report to push for legislation to mandate pay rates.

"The Federal Government, through Deputy Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has said it will implement Safe Rates legislation for the transport industry," he says.

"However, in the 16 months since the NTC made its recommendations, the statistics show that that over 400 people have been killed in our industry."

Sheldon says the Opposition needs to support the legislation and ensure it is not impeded when it is voted on in the Senate.

The Australian Government announced that from January 11 next year front underrun protection must be fitted to the front of all new heavy vehicles over 12 tonnes. Existing trucks must be fitted from January 2012.

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