General Transport


July 26, 2018



July 26, 2018

The Transport Workers’ Union has criticised the targeting of truck drivers after police defected 39 heavy vehicles and reported several drivers on SA roads over a three-week period.

Drivers were caught speeding, breaching load regulations and working long hours. Trucks were also found to be uninsured and unregistered.

“We know that drivers are targeted over ridiculous things, like not displaying the correct registration label, when being on the road for weeks on end often means they have not had the chance to get home and get the new label. But we also know that working beyond regulated hours and speeding to make an unrealistic deadline is something drivers do not have control over. They are simply put under too much pressure,” said Ian Smith, TWU SA/NT Branch Secretary.

“If the aim is to tackle the high number of truck crashes, and deaths and injuries in trucking then the companies at the top need to also be targeted. Wealthy retailers and manufacturers continually put pressure on drivers and transport operators through their low cost contracts. It means drivers are forced to speed, work long hours and skip rest breaks just to get the job done. Drivers do not have the power to change this dynamic. What we need is for the Federal Government to hold the likes of Aldi to account and to introduce an independent watchdog capable of scrutinising safety right through the transport supply chain,” he added.

Truck drivers have held several protests over the past year calling for the Federal Government to address the high number of deaths in the industry and low rates. Just this month, over 300 drivers took part in coordinated convoys in all major capitals, including Adelaide.

In 2016 the Turnbull Government abolished a road safety watchdog that was investigating safety in trucking. This is despite their own report finding that truck crashes had been reduced by 28%. Since the watchdog was abolished almost 400 people have died in truck crashes and nothing has been put in its place to address the issue.


  1. Truck crash deaths statistics

Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics fatal truck crash statistics 

Safe Work workplace fatality statistics

  1. Safe Rates

In April 2016 the Federal Government abolished a system backing safe rates that was holding wealthy clients such as retailers, banks, oil companies and ports to account for low cost contracts, which do not allow their goods to be delivered safely. This was despite the Government’s own reports showing a link between road safety and the pay rates of drivers and that the safe rates system would reduce truck crashes by 28%*.

  1. Evidence of pressure

A Macquarie University study in February criticised a “critical gap” since the Government abolished the regulation that the independent tribunal represented, “that can eliminate existing incentives for overly tight scheduling, unpaid work, and rates that effectively are below cost recovery”.

The study also showed that:

One in 10 truck drivers work over 80 hours per week.

One in six owner drivers say drivers can’t refuse an unsafe load

42% of owner drivers said the reason drivers do not report safety breaches was because of a fear of losing their jobs

A Safe Work Australia report in July 2015 showed:

31% of transport employers say workers ignore safety rules to get the job done

20% of transport employers accept dangerous behaviour, compared to less than 2% in other industries.

20% of transport industry employers break safety rules to meet deadlines – this compares with just 6% of employers in other industries.

  1. Senate report on road safety

In October the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee approved a report recommending industry-led talks to set up an independent body on “supply chain standards and accountability as well as sustainable, safe rates for the transport industry".

* PricewaterhouseCoopers “Review of the Road Safety Remuneration System Final Report January 2016” (PWC Review 2016 – published by the Commonwealth Department of Employment on 1 April, 2016)