Image takes another bashing

Media attention focused on the Australian road transport industry has once again looked at safety and again given trucking operators another bashing, courtesy of Channel 7 program Today Tonight.

You really have to wonder when the producers of such television content will actually talk to those in the industry to get a reasonable look at the big picture.

They may also learn something. The presenter went on to discuss the antics of “16 wheelers” (?) including tailgating and excess speed, but the content presented to the viewing public was more than a little distorted. For example, vision showing a truck behind a car revealed to those in the know that the heavy vehicle was further behind the vehicle than the occupants realised and some of the speeds shown, while admittedly high, were detected at the bottom of a very steep downgrade.

Let’s not paint the picture we as an industry condone tailgating and high speed, rather these incidents are very much regarded as intolerable by trucking operators intent on improving safety and interaction with other road users. They remain high on the list of offences to be stamped out and will continue to be under the microscope.

But the television program made no mention of the on-going work underway within the industry to stamp out such behaviour! I know in this column I have been banging on about the poor media coverage shown the industry, however, I make no apologies and will continue to do so. The fact is such one-sided reporting, with no opportunity for the industry to state its case and show the positive work being done riles me, as it does many in trucking.

The program showed truck speeds at the bottom of the long downgrade on the F3 Sydney to Newcastle Freeway just before the Hawkesbury River Bridge. This section of the road is notorious for speeding from all vehicles, mainly due to the fact it is such a steep grade. Admittedly some trucks creep over the limit due to the grade, but if you follow vehicles you see trucks are travelling slower than cars due to the selected gear and use of engine brakes. On this section it is not unusual to see cars travelling well in excess of the posted limit.

As I said, we in no way condone speeding by any vehicle, but let’s look at it seriously, the grade does make a difference, however the other side of the bridge begins a steep climb – and a lower speed limit.

What the industry would like to see is an effort made by media to talk to the industry rather than go into ‘truck bashing’ mode. The real story would be gains made in relation to safety and driver behaviour made by an industry intent on addressing issues in relation to safety and the old bogey – fatigue.
How about a reporter or perhaps a television crew do a trip with one of our predominately highly professional operators going about their work? These operators could give an overview of their safety concerns and show the public what really goes on from behind the wheel.
Many in trucking could point reporters and producers in the right direction! Those in road transport are business people charged with keeping our nation moving ahead and are doing a great job in doing so.


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