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Producer-owned trucks over-represented in accident figures

James Nason, February 22, 2017

 

Trucks owned and operated by livestock producers are over-represented in major heavy vehicle accident data in Australia, according to a soon-to-be-released truck safety survey.

A snapshot of Australia’s road freight industry safety record was presented to the Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association conference in Toowoomba last Friday by Owen Driscoll, industry and government relations manager for National Transport Insurance (NTI).

Since 2002, NTI, the nation’s largest truck insurer, has funded major independent accident investigation surveys every two years to document the trucking industry’s progress on safety and to gain greater insights into the causes of serious heavy vehicle crashes.

The seventh biannual report has been completed and will be released by NTI’s National Truck Accident Research Centre in coming weeks, but Mr Driscoll was able to offer some insights at last Friday’s conference.

The headline point is that since reports started in 2002, there are now 46 percent less heavy vehicle major accidents in Australia, even though overall freight activity has grown by 40pc.

A range of factors is behind that significant improvement, according to Mr Driscoll, including better trucks, better roads, better training of drivers, better safety programs and fatigue management, and better technology such as satellite monitoring.

The livestock transport sector is over-represented in the figures, accounting for four percent of the road freight task, but 10pc of all major heavy vehicle accidents.

But it is also important to note, Mr Driscoll pointed out, that livestock transport is a risky business, and a “very tough part of the freight task”.

Loading cattle in dust and heat and driving long-distances on dirt roads with shifting loads presented a serious challenge.

“Given the circumstances they operate in, their behaviour is exceptionally good,” he told Beef Central.

“They are over-represented but only marginally. It is a very tough job and one they do very well.”

Graziers over-represented

One area he was concerned about however was the over-representation of trucks owned and operated by livestock producers.

“A big proportion of accidents in the livestock arena happen with farmers and graziers who think it is a bright idea to buy a truck and trailer these days and undercut the proper operators,” he said.

“They represent 27pc of the hits.

“I would like to know what proportion of the freight they carry. That would be really interesting.”

He said this ancillary sector of the fleet tended run under the guard of regulators, and was arguably likely to not have the same level of driver training or to follow correct fatigue management procedures.

He said Government agencies should concentrate their focus more on ancillary trucks in both the farming and mining community that run under the radar.

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Comments

  1. Eion McAllister, February 23, 2017

    Hasn’t Mr Driscoll got any faith in the Work Diary system? I am sure the authorities investigating accidents would be looking at fatigue management closely as a contributing factor.If it was a significant issue then it would be reflected in action by them. Producer’s heavy vehicles are subject to the same requirements of “machinery inspections” and compliance matters as any other truck on the road. Has anyone seen a dedicated livestock hauling training institution around? Not in my area. All truck drivers learn on the job and in the conditions that they operate in. It’s called experience. It stands to reason that dedicated truck operators who spend every day hauling cattle across diverse landscapes and in varied conditions will have a great deal more of that than operators who have less mileage on the clock. Commercial livestock haulers are generally very good at what they do, but it is very often completely uneconomical or unworkable to utilise them for many of the movements between holdings and small lot movements where booking timetables are unable to facilitate effective or humane transfers. Why Mr Driscoll makes such a disparaging remark as to ” think it’s a bright idea to buy a truck and trailer and undercut the proper operators”, I can only speculate at ,but I think he draws a long bow. What is wrong with any business looking at its costs and becoming more cost effective and efficient by the purchase of capital equipment to suit its enterprise. It may in fact be a very, very sound financial and operational decision requiring significant investment, which I can assure him no producer would make without a very careful cost benefit analysis and to imply that such decisions are flippantly undertaken does him no credit and to state that they are somehow not “proper” operators is bordering on insulting.

  2. Jeff Forster, February 22, 2017

    I would by happy if Mr Driscoll is prepared to further his comments with researched facts and not biased opinions. The assumptions already made could be challenged elsewhere.
    We drive roads where most don’t !

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