Victoria turns spotlight from truckies to motorists

Heavy vehicle-involved road toll spike prompts minister’s alert

Victoria turns spotlight from truckies to motorists
Jaala Pulford


Having recently flagged a crackdown on heavy vehicle noncompliance, the Victorian government is now turning its attention to motorists’ interaction with trucks following this year’s road toll spike.   

Deaths involving heavy vehicles on Victorian roads this year has increased to 42, compared with 28 in all of 2018, the government quotes.

Of those, 14 deaths have been truck drivers and their passengers, 16 were other vehicle drivers and their passengers, one bus driver, three motorcyclists, three cyclists and five pedestrians.

"In what has been a tragic year on our roads, we have seen a worrying trend in the number of people dying in crashes involving heavy vehicles and everyone needs to be aware of the risks when driving around trucks," Roads and road safety minister Jaala Pulford says.

"Whether you’re behind the wheel of a truck or sharing the road with one, we all have a responsibility to play our part in keeping each other safe."

The government cites a National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) study "finding many crashes involving heavy vehicles are caused by other motorists".

"Road users are reminded of some simple steps that can be taken to be safer around heavy vehicles.

"Most trucks have large blind spots, and motorists are encouraged to be aware of where they are and ensure the driver can see you.

"Trucks take longer to stop, so leaving enough space is vital for safe driving around trucks.

"When overtaking a truck, be patient and wait for a safe opportunity.

"Always be aware of road conditions, travel at an appropriate speed and never overtake a turning truck as heavy vehicles need more space to turn."

Nevertheless, the spotlight still remains on "common factors" in heavy vehicle road trauma, including speed, fatigue, impaired driving and unroadworthy vehicles.

More on the proposed crackdown on Victorian heavy vehicle noncompliance, here

The state points to two initiatives underway with road safety in mind, including:

  • funding a $4 million program to develop a heavy vehicle training program in partnership with the Victorian Transport Association (VTA) and providers, that will put drivers through their paces to improve driving skills and develop safety-first attitudes.
  • an $850,000 road-side fatigue testing trial is currently underway to see if roadside testing for extreme fatigue can be conducted in a similar way to current roadside alcohol and drug testing.

The latter trial involves car drivers being kept awake for up to 32 hours before conducting a two-hour drive on a controlled track, supervised by a qualified instructor in a dual-control vehicle.

Drivers will be tested before and after their drive to measure involuntary movement of their pupils, which is proven to be strongly linked with increasing levels of fatigue.

VicRoads is leading the study and is working closely with Monash University, the Transport Accident Commission (TAC), Victoria Police and the Alertness CRC.

ATN has sought further information on results from the earlier heavy vehicle blitz.


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