IN 2018, fatalities involving all heavy trucks decreased by 20.5% compared with 2017, from 171 to 136 crashes, according to information released by the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities.

Articulated truck fatalities decreased by an average of 7.8% per years in the three years to December 2018. However rigid truck fatalities reduced by only 1.5% per year over those three years.

NatRoad president Allan Thornley said the overall trend is in the right direction but there is a need to better understand why improvements in the fatality rate for rigid trucks is plateauing.

“The path to a better road safety outcome is paved by evidence-based research so we need to know a lot more about the causes of heavy vehicle fatal crashes,” he said.

“The government has underway a review of who should be responsible for road safety in Australia.  That is a step we applaud. Government must invest in research that helps the heavy vehicle industry to better understand the fatality rate.”

Mr Thornley said government agencies across Australia should make a commitment to the more effective collection of and easier access to information provided by accident investigations.

“At the same time, greater scrutiny of the causes of those accidents is needed, as well as education of light vehicle drivers who are at fault in more than 80% of fatalities involving a heavy vehicle,” he said.

“A government agency such as the Australian Transport Safety Bureau or a newly created road safety body should be given power to promptly and fully investigate serious truck accidents. There is a need to share the results and recommendations publicly so that all industry participants can take the appropriate action to reduce the road toll. That role should also encompass better research on trends and causal factors.”

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Mr Thornley said both data and research are currently inadequate to formulate benchmarks for heavy vehicle incidents.

“NatRoad has a deep commitment to improving road safety,” he said.

“Measures which will help the community achieve fewer road fatalities must be introduced and they must be based on proper analysis and a deeper understanding of what is behind the trends the recent statistics highlight.”

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