Truckie senator sick of operators getting “screwed”

WA Labor Senator Glenn Sterle, a former owner-driver truckie himself, has spoken out against self-driving trucks and challenged the industry to stand united with him to fix the issues plaguing road transport.

Truckie senator sick of operators getting “screwed”
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After driving road trains for more than a decade between Perth and Darwin, Sterle says trucking is in his blood and he intends to fight for the rights of the transport industry as the threat of automation looms.

The recent death of a woman hit and killed by a self-driving Uber vehicle in Arizona prompted Sterle to take a stand against machines taking the jobs of truckies.

"I was reading a newspaper article recently and I saw that unfortunately a woman was killed in the United States pushing her bicycle across the road at night.

"The automated vehicle was one that I believe had a driver in the vehicle, and yet that poor woman got run over and killed.

"How can we have trust in this technology, you just can't run somebody over then say whoopsie daisy.

"I have heard all the arguments that automated vehicles are safe and I've heard all the arguments that they’re safer than humans are - obviously that's all coming from the automation industry.

"In no way can any legislator sit back and say we want to trial this on our roads."

Automated heavy vehicles are currently used in mining applications, but the Senator doesn’t believe self-driving vehicles can replace a human truckie.

"I know they've been doing it in the mine's for years and with trains - I get all that, but there is nothing on this planet or no person that can convince me that automation in our road transport system is the way to go.

"Could you imagine our line haul industry, before we even get out of the cities, being run without a driver behind the wheel?

"We're not just truck drivers, we’re actually members of our community, we're service providers, we actually do have rapport with our customers and clients, and we have rapport with our suppliers.

"Christ, we're integral, we’re not just some peanut behind the steering wheel making sure it goes into gear without a crunch and gets the freight there in record time."

Sterle insists legislators should be focusing on existing issues within the transport industry before getting caught up in all the talk of automation.

"There are so many issues to fix before we go down the automation path.

"That goes for things like more rest areas, and a decent fatigue management system.

"There is so much more to be done and until the decent hard working men and women in this industry are remunerated well, the last thing we should be contemplating is having discussions about how we can cut more jobs.

"The transport industry is having the living daylights screwed out of them financially as it is."

Sterle is calling on the transport industry to step up and fight alongside him to fix the issues this industry faces right now.

"For goodness sake, I watched the Jetsons and I grew up with Maxwell Smart talking into his phone in his shoe, but we need to say ‘stop’.

"I'm going to throw this challenge out - I challenge the industry to get in behind me, stand beside me, and let’s do this together united.

"Let’s separate the operators from those who just want to make a profit or screw our trucking fraternity."

Sterle led the ‘Aspects of road safety in Australia’ inquiry which saw a number of recommendations offered in last year’s report.

Recommendations ranged from ADR’s being delivered faster to keep up with advancements in vehicle technology, right through to Visa holders with heavy vehicle licences undergoing skills tests in Australia before their licence is recognised.

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