Comparison needed before safe rates: ATA

ATA urges government to halt safe rates reforms until other safety benefits are examined

February 21, 2011

The Federal Government should compare the safety benefits and costs of safe rates against other measures before going ahead with the reform, the Australian Trucking Association says.

ATA CEO Stuart St Clair wants the Government to evaluate the costs of remuneration reform against allocating similar resources to road safety programs such as highway upgrades and enforcement tools.

While saying there is a great deal of research on pay and safety, St Clair says none of it compares the effectiveness of safe rates against other measures.

"We know, for example, that every dollar spent on building divided roads generates about five dollars in safety benefits. Every dollar spent on sealing rural shoulders generates up to forty dollars in safety benefits. Speed cameras have a benefit cost ratio of twelve to one," he says.

"To get the best value for the community’s safety dollars, the Government will need to evaluate the safe rates models against these proven ways of improving road safety."

St Clair also wants a guarantee that existing regulations such as chain of responsibility law are rigorously applied to hold all parties in the supply chain for unsafe practices.

"The model heavy vehicle driver fatigue and speeding legislation already has provisions that give enforcement agencies the ability to take action against parties that impose unsafe contracts or working arrangements," he says.

St Clair’s comments stem from the ATA’s submission to the Federal Government’s Safe Rates, Safe Roads discussion paper, which proposes ways of establishing a system to ensure drivers and sub-contractors are paid enough to make ends meet.

The Transport Workers Union (TWU), which is member of the ATA, opposed the application. It submitted its own recommendations that supported a tribunal within Fair Work Australia to rule on pay and conditions.

St Clair says the Government should look at incentives for trucking companies that join the ATA-run TruckSafe accreditation program.

"TruckSafe accredited vehicles have half the crash rate of non-accredited vehicles, as independent research shows," he says.

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