OPINION: Seeking a new year safety resolution

ON THE ROAD: Unions are calling for a change to road safety into the new year.
ON THE ROAD: Unions are calling for a change to road safety into the new year. Kirstin Payne

THE beginning of a new year means for many a resolution to make their lives better.

People want to lose weight, give up old habits, and try to generally be a better person.

This new year, I want to challenge the Federal Government to come back to the transport industry with resolutions that won't be broken or placed in the "too hard” basket.

In the last edition of Big Rigs, Senator Michaelia Cash commented "the government takes the safety of all road users, including truck drivers, very seriously”.

She said SafeWork Australia and other regulators would focus on reducing the high number of fatalities in our industry.

Good, but not good enough.

The Federal Government appears to have a narrow focus, only on where the wheels hit the ground and not the industry as a whole.

I am absolutely certain the Federal Government will understand the reality that road safety is a shared responsibility.

The "but” is in the way they address it, dumping that shared responsibility on the heavily regulated, heavily tolled, heavily scrutinised people behind the wheel to meet their safer roads goal.

Buying more cameras to catch a possible speeding truck is not the answer to ensuring a safer road.

A watchdog or tribunal must be put in place with the power to formulate, implement and enforce supply chain standards and accountability ensuring sustainable, safe rates at all levels of the industry.

Currently the pressure on drivers, none more evident than over the recent Christmas delivery season, is making this industry highly dangerous.

Too many are not making it home at the end of a shift.

TWU member John Hanley spoke recently on the pressures being faced.

"A load of wine might come from Western Australia and it's scheduled to arrive in Sydney on Monday morning,” Mr Hanley said.

"That truck has maybe two days to get from WA to Sydney.

"He might have a drop in Sydney, and another drop in Parramatta. Well, you just can't.

"With the way that the traffic is here on a Monday morning, it's just ridiculous. I have experienced it myself first-hand.

"I have to tray loads and tray drops with wholesalers here and it's impossible to get to the wholesalers within half an hour.

"You need to queue up, you might be waiting two hours.

"I have waited as long as seven hours in a queue to get unloaded. And that's part of what the truck drivers are up against.

"It has not improved.”

The resolve of the Federal Government needs to be strong in 2018.

The enforcement of the Chain of Responsibility, which affects mums and dads and kids, needs not just be where the rubber meets the road.

It must also be where the suit meets the chair in every boardroom of every company that uses drivers to carry Australia.

Topics:  opinion richard olsen twu twu nsw state secretary richard olsen

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