National News

Image: NTI – Major Investigation Report

As travel restrictions ease, new report shows truck driver tragedies on the rise

With more vehicles back on the roads as COVID-19 restrictions ease, shocking new figures have been released today showing for the first time in 20 years, there has been an increase in the number of truck driver deaths on Australian roads.

NTI’s National Truck Accident Research Centre (NTARC) has today published its latest national report into the cause of major crashes involving trucks.

The NTARC report discovered there were almost 100 more serious incidents in 2019 compared with two years prior, and the number of truck drivers who died last year was 2.5 times higher than in 2017.

Importantly, the report found in 80 per cent of all serious crashes involving cars and trucks, the car driver was at fault – a startling figure as many Australians begin to use their vehicles again following weeks of driving restrictions.

NTI’s CEO Tony Clark said it was an important reminder for us all to do the right thing on our roads.

“We had been on a downward trend of heavy vehicle-related deaths and had hoped to hit zero within the next decade, but tragically, last year we saw more loss of life, not just for truckies but all road users.”

While the exact reason for the increase in deaths was unknown, the 2020 NTARC report found two of every three crashes were the result of fatigue and distraction.

“The report found the number of truck driver deaths caused by distraction more than doubled in the past two years,” Mr Clark said.

“Another worrying trend we saw was that 82% of the crashes involving truck drivers aged 25 years and under were caused by distraction.”
New legislation across Queensland, New South Wales (NSW) and Western Australia has been introduced to target distracted driving, in particular phone use while driving.

NSW Minister for Transport and Roads Andrew Constance said NSW has led the way in cracking down on light and heavy vehicle drivers using mobile phones.

“Research has found hand-held mobile phone use while driving is associated with at least a four-fold increase in the risk of having a casualty crash, so NSW has introduced world first mobile phone detection cameras in our state to help deter drivers,” Minister Constance said.

“The program includes fixed and transportable trailer-mounted cameras which move across a network of locations state-wide. We want to help lower the risks of driver distraction crashes in NSW and these cameras mean we can target illegal mobile phone use anywhere, anytime.

“There are also harsh penalties for any driver caught doing the wrong thing with a $344 fine, or a $457 fine in a school zone, and five demerit points, or 10 during double demerit periods.”

Full licence holders are permitted to use a mobile phone for audio and calls if the phone can be used hands-free. It is also permitted to use a phone as a driver’s aid, such as navigation, if the phone is secured in a cradle. It is illegal for learner, P1 and P2 drivers to use these functions.

The full report can be found here.