– By Caroline Falls –
Australia’s biggest insurer of trucks National Transport Insurance has released a study of major crashes involving trucks, showing an increase in truck driver deaths to 50 in 2019.
As lockdown restrictions ease across the country, and traffic is building up again, the report is a sobering reminder that a truck cabin can be a deadly workplace.
“This is the highest figure in a decade and an increase of over 30 percent compared to 2018. This is not a trend that anyone wishes to see continue and as an industry we must redouble our efforts to make sure every single person in the transport industry gets home safe,” NTI said in its foreword to the 24-page report that was prepared by its National Truck Accident Research Centre.
The report — Major Accident Investigation —showed there were almost 100 more serious incidents in 2019 compared with its previous study two years earlier. The report from this year will be published annually.
“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 said in a press release in late May.
NTI’s CEO, Tony Clark said it was an important reminder for us all to do the right thing on our roads as lockdown restrictions are lifted and traffic builds.
“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 midnight shift is the one most likely to lead to the grave. More than half of truck diver deaths studied among NTI’s large loss events involving trucks were in incidents that occurred on the midnight-to-6 am shift.
The study is based on data collected from 848 incidents in 2019 that resulted in claims of more than $50,000 on National Transport Insurance.
The report found the number of truck driver deaths caused by distraction more than doubled in the past two years.
“Another worrying trend we saw was that 82 percent of the crashes involving truck drivers aged 25 years and under were caused by distraction,” said Clark.
The report is linked
— Caroline Falls is a freelance journalist reporting for Australian and international publications. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org