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Heavy vehicle safety critical to reducing national road deaths

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Darren Chester Minister for Infrastructure and Transport

David Gillespie Federal Member for Lyne

Joint Media Statement

7 December 2016

Heavy vehicle safety critical to reducing national road deaths

 Around 60 per cent of people killed in heavy truck crashes are light vehicle occupants  Driver fatigue is recognised as one of the major factors involved  The Australian Government’s record investment in road safety improvements continues  In the majority of crashes involving heavy vehicles, the heavy vehicle driver is not at fault

The Coalition Government is continuing to invest record funding in road safety infrastructure and programmes in an effort to reduce national road trauma.

Speaking from the Four Mile Hill rest stop, south of the Taree South interchange on the Pacific Highway, Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester said investing in rest stops and regulating for safer heavy vehicles were key approaches to reducing deaths and serious injuries from road crashes.

“Despite a reduction in road trauma caused by heavy vehicle crashes across Australia, heavy vehicles are still disproportionately involved in crashes involving fatalities,” Mr Chester said.

“In the majority of crashes involving heavy vehicles, fault is not assigned to the heavy truck.

“Around 60 per cent of people killed in heavy truck crashes are light vehicle occupants and another 20 per cent are vulnerable road users such as motorcyclists, cyclists or pedestrians.

“While fatalities in crashes involving articulated trucks have been trending down at approximately five per cent a year over the last decade, every road death and injury on our roads is a tragedy and more preventative work needs to be done.”

Mr Chester said driver fatigue was recognised as one of the big factors involved in major crashes, particularly in Australia’s rural and remote areas.

“Driver fatigue plays an enormous role in our national road toll, so in the lead up to the holiday season where millions of people will be travelling on our national highways, I implore all drivers to make regular stops to alleviate fatigue,” he said.

“A recent study found that the risk of a heavy vehicle being involved in a crash significantly increases if the driver has driven for more than four hours without a break.

“This finding confirms the importance of regular breaks and the need for further government investment in rest areas around Australia.

“Our government is responding to this challenge with a commitment of $288 million over seven years to 2019-20 to the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Programme (HVSPP) under which state, territory and

local governments are being supported to enhance the capacity of existing roads and improve connections to freight networks.

“Under Rounds Three to Five of the HVSPP, $92.6 million has been committed to 82 projects in NSW.

“The Coalition Government is also providing $828,000 over two years to the National Transport Commission for a heavy vehicle driver fatigue research project which aims to inform the design of future fatigue arrangements for the heavy vehicle industry.

Federal Member for Lyne David Gillespie said in September this year the Coalition Government announced it would provide $2.45 million to improve Australia’s heavy vehicle camera monitoring network.

“The network is part of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator’s broader plans for a national system that will enable the NHVR, and other enforcement agencies, to identify drivers and operators who systematically flout fatigue laws” Dr Gillespie said.

“These cameras, which will be operating on major Australian freight routes like the Pacific Highway by July 2017, will help reduce pressure on freight operators to shift goods within unrealistic time constraints.”

Mr Chester said work was continuing on further developing the Australian Design Rules to ensure that new heavy vehicles entering the Australian market support improved road safety outcomes, including implementation of the National Heavy Vehicle Braking Strategy.

“These and other major road infrastructure and safety programmes being funded by the Coalition Government - including the Black Spots Programme, the Bridges to Renewal Programme and the Roads to Recovery Programme - are all part of a concerted effort to reduce crashes, and the trauma they cause, right around Australia,” Mr Chester said.

For more information about the Australian Government’s road safety improvement measures:

Media Contacts For Mr Chester: Kerri Griffiths 0417 617 482

For Dr Gillespie: Rob Nardella 0433 141 433