NatRoad chair calls for “urgent” conversation around driver competency

Following the fatal crash on Eyre highway this month that saw the death of three truckies, the conversation surrounding driver competency and inexperienced drivers has achieved national attention.

NatRoad Chair Paul Fellows released a statement this week calling for an urgent industry conversation about driver competency.

His full message is below:

“Has Eyre Highway become Australia’s most dangerous road freight route? Many of you told me so earlier this month at NatRoad Industry Forum in Mount Gambier.

The tragic death of three truck drivers in a smash near Yalata on April 4 focused national attention on the Eyre, and I won’t speculate on the cause which is a matter for the South Australian Coroner.

I will say that the 1200km road linking Western Australia to the rest of the country has been carrying an enormous volume of freight since floods temporarily closed the Trans-Australian Railway line in March.

There have been reports of some operators being offered lucrative sums to haul loads and meet urgent deadlines with some new and inexperienced drivers suddenly finding themselves behind the wheel.

While the rail line has re-opened and the backlog is subsiding, the behaviour of some inexperienced drivers is a problem that isn’t going away. One of my own guys had a brush with death recently and I’ve heard similar stories from others.

We need an urgent industry conversation about driver competency.

NatRoad has been calling for a move to national and improved standards for years. Time spent on a particular class of licence should no longer be the determinant of progression, and drivers coming from other countries should have to meet our standards.

With the driver shortage continuing to bite, now is the time for regulators to stop navel-gazing and act – urgently.

And if you see dangerous driver behaviour, the Heavy Vehicle Confidential Reporting Line 1800 931 785 is a secure, national, confidential telephone service to report safety issues.  Calling police is an option if there’s a risk to life.

Dobbing may not sit comfortably with some, but it could be your life or that of a friend or workmate that you save.”

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