King looks for positives amid truck crash figures

The number of fatal crashes involving articulated trucks increased over the past year, but incidents involving rigid trucks fell

By Brad Gardner | February 7, 2011

The Federal Government says there are positive signs in the latest truck crash figures despite an increase in the number of incidents involving articulated vehicles.

The Fatal Heavy Vehicle Crashes Australia bulletin for April to June 2010 shows a 15 percent rise in fatal crashes involving articulated trucks between June 2009 and June 2010.

Released last week by the Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport, the bulletin says there were 160 deaths from 130 crashes during the period involving an articulated truck. There were 113 crashes the previous year.

Conversely, there were 79 deaths from 64 crashes involving heavy rigid trucks – a decrease of 31.2 percent compared to the corresponding period a year earlier.

Despite the rise in articulated crashes, fatal crashes have fallen by an average of 4.1 percent per year for the three years to June 2010.
Heavy rigid incidents have fallen by an average of 3.1 percent during the same period.

Highlighting a five-year trend, Parliamentary Secretary for Infrastructure and Transport Catherine King says the number of accidents has fallen despite heavy vehicles travelling greater distances.

"The bulletin shows that during the last five years the number of fatal crashes involving heavy vehicles have decreased," she says.

"In the same period, registrations of heavy trucks and buses have increased by around 16 percent and vehicle-kilometres-travelled have increased by 11 percent.

"This shows that the risk per vehicle or the risk per trip has decreased markedly."

However, King echoed comments made by Australian Trucking Association (ATA) Chairman David Simon in saying more needs to be done to improve safety.

He says the figures will not be good enough "until every single truck driver and every single motorist gets home to their family safely".

According to the bulletin, the heavy rigid crashes fell from 93 to 64 in June 2009 to June 2010.

Simon attributed the result to safer trucking operations, better roads, chain of responsibility laws and greater professionalism from drivers and employers.

NSW (44) recorded the highest amount of fatal crashes involving an articulated truck between June 2009 and June 2010, followed by Queensland at 37.

The figure represents a 42.3 percent increase, with Queensland recording 26 the previous year.

NSW (21) and Western Australia (16) had the highest rate of heavy rigid crashes, while incidents in Queensland fell 57.1 percent from 21 to 9.

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