Why should rest of Australia follow NSW, SARTA asks

Shearer questions ALC's claim why national safety policy changes should be based on NSW statistics

Why should rest of Australia follow NSW, SARTA asks
Shearer recommends implementing workable and effective measures to tackle road safety.


Making changes to national rules based on the road safety statistics of New South Wales will not be fair, the South Australian Road Transport Association (SARTA) says.

SARTA executive officer Steve Shearer questions the validity of statements made my industry representatives bodies and other members who are calling for national policy reform following a spate of truck crashes in NSW recently.

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC), the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) and Toll Group MD Michael Byrne have demanded government action that addresses the issue of road safety on a national level and not just in NSW, which saw more crashes during the recent holiday period compared with other states and territories.

"Why should the rest of the country march to the beat of the NSW drum ... again ... when it is blindingly obvious that NSW is performing worst of all the states and seemingly has one or more issues that are not duplicated in the other states," SARTA questions.

The SA road transport body says it wants to see accident rates come down but a "politically-driven knee-jerk reaction" is not the way to go about it.

Instead, it says, implementing workable and effective measures can facilitate that solution.

As ALC and ATA laud discussions held with NSW road, maritime and freight minister Melinda Pavey, the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) and NSW police, SARTA says there are four questions that demand answers:

  • why did it take a rise in accident figures in NSW to prompt safety discussions
  • when other states are seeing a decrease in crash figures, why should they follow "solutions" that are based on NSW figures, "consider this in the light of the fact that the NSW increase in crashes is despite and perhaps even because of, the fact that NSW has a massively disproportionately higher number of Enforcement officers than any other state, who are largely focused on technical non-safety compliance enforcement"
  • what is the real cause of a higher rate of truck crashes in NSW, the answer, SARTA says, "is not that there are more trucks in and through NSW, that is simplistic and naive window dressing"
  • why should the rest of the country follow NSW when it is performing worse than all other regions and has "one or more issues that are not duplicated in the other states".

Byrne's suggestion that it is time for nationally consistent policy reform leaves SARTA questioning whether that implies that Western Australia and Northern Territory - two regions that have not adopted the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) - are to be blamed for the problems related to safety.

"Or is this just spin saying that NSW is now going to make changes and everyone else, including the all the other states that are clearly doing better than NSW, have to get on board so we have uniformity," Shearer questions.

"It is an outrage that yet again NSW thinks it can cast aside the national HV Law agenda and set it own path."

SARTA recommends the following measures and considerations before any national-level decisions are taken:

1. "Try to understand what is different about NSW that is causing or allowing a higher crash rate. You cant solve a problem until you actually understand it properly.

2. "Carefully consider what is being proposed by the NSW politicians and some industry reps and see if it is relevant and practicable in the rest of the country.

3. "Be wary of snake-oil salesman who will, like before, try to take advantage of the higher crash rates in NSW to flog their own agendas and even systems and heaven forbid legislative solutions such as mandatory telematics etc."

"The obvious question that has to be asked about any such proposals from NSW is if the proposed solution is not already operating in all the other states where crashes are declining then where is the evidence that the absence of those measures is the problem in NSW and hence their implementation will be the answer," Shearer states.

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