Driscoll wants greater scrutiny of truck accidents

NTI's Owen Driscoll lines up with the ATA in calling for far more thorough investigation of truck accidents

Driscoll wants greater scrutiny of truck accidents
Driscoll wants greater scrutiny of truck accidents

The nation’s largest truck insurer, National Transport Insurance (NTI), has backed the Australian Trucking Association’s call for far more thorough investigation of truck accidents.

ATA Chairman David Simon last month urged the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) to establish a national ‘no blame’ accident investigation capacity for fatal truck crashes.

This would be similar to the approach taken for aviation, marine and rail accidents.

Over the past decade more than 500 truck drivers alone have been killed in truck accidents.

NTI Industry Relations Manager Owen Driscoll says the ATSB only looks into ships, planes and trains.

"So the road transport industry yet again becomes the poor cousin," Driscoll, who is also Director of Research at the National Truck Accident Research Centre, says.

"Really we have got nothing, apart from limited independent research.

"That’s a really sad thing for the road transport industry, an industry that continues to be under the microscope but with little commitment from government agencies in many quarters.

"Police and road traffic agencies have a certain amount of data, but their systems are not compatible."

Driscoll, who is Deputy Chair of Trucksafe, was a keynote speaker at the ATA/Paccar Technical and Maintenance Conference in Melbourne last month.

Every two years he compiles NTI’s Major Accident Investigation Report, which examines accidents causing more than $50,000 worth of claims to the company.

NTI insures more than 40 per cent of Australia’s heavy vehicles. The latest report analysed 460 accidents lodged during 2011.

It concluded that inappropriate speed for the conditions was the main cause of a quarter of all incidents. Fatigue and non-impact fires accounted for about 12 per cent each.

The good news is that after adjusting for inflation, NTI’s sample of truck accidents shows a decrease of more than 40 per cent in major crash incidents since 2003.

NTI investigators interview drivers, witnesses, police, tow truck operators and they examine satellite data and engine records.

However, Driscoll concedes the causes of some accidents still remain uncertain.

He says far more involvement is needed from government bodies, including taking investigations further up the chain of responsibility.

He points out that state occupational, health and safety agencies do not even regard the cab of a truck as a workplace.

Driscoll also agrees with Simon’s call for governments to establish a national database of coronial recommendations about road safety, together with the responses to them, and updates about the recommendations that have not been followed up.

Check out the January edition of Owner//Driver for the full story on truck accident research. Click here secure your copy.

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