Truckies 'don't like Mondays'

MOST fatigue-related truck accidents occur within the first five or six hours of a driver's journey - and one in four crashes happened on Mondays - for many, the start of the working week, a recent accident study undertaken by NTI (National Transport Insurance) shows.

ATA chairman Trevor Martyn said the study, by ATA's foundation sponsor, raised important issues for the trucking industry, governments and regulators.

“The NTI study shows that driver fatigue and inappropriate speed for the conditions accounted for almost one in two serious truck accidents,” Trevor said.

“But the majority (89.3 per cent) of the fatigue crashes occurred on outbound journeys, usually within 500 kilometres of the point of departure.

“It's worth noting that none of these accidents would have been prevented by electronic fatigue monitoring, because the drivers would have been well within the regulated hours programmed into the electronic systems.

“According to the study, the vast majority (77.5 per cent) of the speed-related crashes were due to trucks rolling over because they were going too fast when they changed direction.

“Again, many of these accidents would not have been prevented by electronic speed monitoring. The trucks could have been travelling within the legal speed limit, but going too fast for the conditions.”

The figures instead suggest that:

  • The industry and governments need to place a renewed emphasis on driver health and on making sure that drivers are fit for duty when they start work.
  • Consignors need to make a conscious effort to reduce stress and fatigue at the start of drivers' shifts by using better loading practices, making sure departures occur on time, and time slots are achievable.
  • Governments need to build more rest areas within a 500km radius of the major cities. “So drivers can find a place to stop and cool down after the teeth-grinding frustration of loading and getting through the city traffic,” Trevor said.

The NTI study examines the cause of 325 major crashes that occurred in 2007, and builds on previous studies conducted by the insurer in 2003 and 2005.

The study report can be downloaded from www.nti.com.au.

Key findings of the NTI study are:

  • The number of major accidents reported in 2007 was 19.6 per cent lower than in 2005.
  • The truck driver was totally responsible in just under half of the 24.6 per cent of the accidents that did involve another vehicle.

In other words, the drivers of other vehicles were partly or wholly responsible for 13.2 per cent of all the accidents in the study.

  • 86.7 per cent of the accidents occurred within 500 kilometres of the point of departure. 76.9 per cent occurred on a vehicle's outbound journey from its home base.
  • 27.4 per cent of the accidents were caused by inappropriate speed for the conditions, particularly when changing direction. Inappropriate speed was the single most important cause of the accidents.
  • Fatigue was found to be the second most important cause, accounting for 20.3 per cent of the crashes in the study. 89.3 per cent of the fatigue crashes occurred on outbound journeys within 500km of the point of departure. 53.8 per cent of the fatigue crashes occurred between midnight and 6am.
  • 20.6 per cent of the accidents occurred on a Monday, the worst day of the week for truck crashes.
  • Semi-trailers were over-represented in the crash statistics. They accounted for 57.5 per cent of major crashes, but only carried 41.2 per cent of the articulated freight task.
  • B-doubles were much safer. They carried 43.4 per cent of the articulated freight task with only 21.8 per cent of the accidents.

The proportion of truck accidents in NSW was dramatically lower than in 2003; with substantially fewer accidents on the Pacific, Newell and Hume highways.

  • There was no evidence that drivers under the age of 25 had an increased involvement in major crashes.


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