TA 2019: NTI releases NTARC major crash report

Author Gibson hails fatigue-related crash fall to lowest level in 16 years

TA 2019: NTI releases NTARC major crash report
Adam Gibson


New national figures show the number of fatalities involving large trucks fell 14 per cent in two years, according to the trucking insurer National Transport Insurance’s (NTI’s) National Truck Accident Research Centre (NTARC).

An analysis of Australia’s largest database of major crashes involving heavy vehicles shows a downward trend, with the number of fatal truck accidents the lowest in nearly two decades, its says.

The National Truck Accident Research Centre (NTARC) report released at the Australian Trucking Association’s (ATA) National Trucking Conference found the trend has Australia within a generation of achieving zero deaths from crashes involving heavy vehicles.

 "To put the figures in perspective, the decline in the number of heavy-vehicle involved deaths between the 2017 and 2019 reports equates to 1,545 lives being saved," report author Adam Gibson, of NTI, says.

The report also finds nation-wide, the number of crashes caused by fatigue was down.

"Encouragingly, we’ve seen the lowest number of fatigue-related crashes in the report’s 16-year history," Gibson says.

"Fatigue was the cause of 9.8 per cent of major crashes, down from 20 per cent a decade ago."

A state-by-state breakdown reveals:

  • two out of every five serious fatigue accidents occur in New South Wales
  • the risk of a fatigue accident occurring in Queensland is 51 per cent higher than the national average
  • in Western Australia, 15 per cent of the state’s major truck crashes are the result of fatigue
  • fatigue-related crashes in Victoria and South Australia fell in the last two years by 68 per cent and 40 per cent respectively.

Read about NTI’s pledge for ongoing support of NTARC, here

"As an industry, we welcome new technology which alerts drivers to their fatigue, so that they might take a break and rest, before there’s any loss of life," Gibson says

Australian Trucking Association (ATA) chair Geoff Crouch welcomes the results while emphasising there is still work to be done.

"We need to see a strong commitment from our government for practical safety solutions like an improved truck driver licensing system and mandatory safety technologies for new trucks," Crouch says.

"The ATA is working hard to improve safety outcomes, focusing on the improvement and increase of heavy vehicle rest areas, making the fatigue laws more flexible and hearing from drivers first-hand what they think will work, as we are doing this week at our Trucking Australia conference."

In 2017, most categories of incident cause remained generally consistent with previous reports, with some exceptions. The report's key findings are:

  • mechanical failure losses increased from 3.5 per cent to 6.5 per cent of all losses – an rise of more than 80 per cent – with steer tyre failures being the predominant underlying cause
  • the proportion of losses attributed to fatigue decreased from 21.4 per cent in 2015 to 14.8 per cent in 2017, driven by a sharp reduction in fatigue losses in Victoria
  • losses arising from the actions/behaviour of drivers (fatigue, inappropriate speed and driver error) continue to represent the majority of losses, remaining steady at around 54 per cent of all losses since 2009
  • the trend of an increasing proportion of not-at-fault claims has continued, but at a lesser rate (5.9 per cent increase, compared with 21.8 per cent between 2013 and 2015)
  • rollover-while-tipping accidents remain around 5 per cent of all large losses with incidents in Western Australia making up 40 per cent of losses in this category
  • the proportion of large losses involving multiple vehicles has continued to grow, increasing by 12 per cent over the 2015 data to now constitute 37 per cent of losses
  • for fatal multi-vehicle incidents, the third party vehicle was at fault 83 per cent of the time. "NTI has been reporting on this figure for a decade and the statistic has never been outside of the band between 80 and 100 per cent," the report notes.

The report also pays tribute to the former driving force for NTARC and its analyses.

"It is difficult to overstate the contribution the outgoing author of this report has made to heavy vehicle safety in Australia," the foreword says.

"Through a combination of vision and personal effort, Owen Driscoll led NTI’s creation of, what has become, one of the primary data sources for almost every Australian heavy vehicle regulatory reform in the past decade.

"While many have spoken to the value of a data-and evidence-based approach to heavy vehicle regulation, there are few who have done more to bring that to reality than Mr Driscoll.

"Throughout his distinguished 43 year tenure at NTI, and the 14 years as author of the NTARC Major Crash Reports, Owen forged strong relationships across the transport and logistics ecosystem. From owner-drivers and large fleet operators to senior bureaucrats and ministers, Owen became a respected advisor.

"Owen also made significant contribution through his deep understanding of industry issues and his strong relationship with the Australian Trucking Association.

"Probably the best example of this is his contribution to the industry owned and led accreditation scheme TruckSafe."

The full NTARC 2019 Major Accident Investigation Report can be found here.


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