New national road safety system

According to Transport Minister Anthony Albanese, commercial road transport is an integral part of the national economy, but it is also a dangerous industry – with 250 fatalities and more than 1000 serious injuries from trucking accidents a year.

In a joint press release with Federal Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations, Chris Evans, Albanese now said that truck drivers should not have to speed, overload their trucks, drive excessive hours or cut back on vehicle maintenance just to make a decent living.

“The Government will introduce legislation to establish a national Road Safety Remuneration System comprising a Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal and a separate education and compliance framework,” he said. “This will save lives by ensuring that truck drivers are paid reasonably for the work they do, getting rid of the economic incentive for drivers to take unacceptable risks on our roads.”

The Tribunal will begin work on 1 July, 2012 and will include members from Fair Work Australia along with independent work, health and safety experts. Where the tribunal determines that a sector of the industry has poor safety outcomes as a result of low remuneration, the tribunal will be able to make a Road Safety Remuneration Order to improve the on-road safety outcomes for drivers operating in that sector.

“Research by the National Transport Commission (NTC) has shown that low rates of pay can lead to and risky work practices by drivers to make ends meet. These risky practices by drivers include speeding, long hours and using illicit substances,” Albanese said.

The truck driving sector continues to have the highest incidence of fatal injuries compared to all other industries with 25 deaths per 100,000 workers in 2008-09 10 times the average for all industries. In 2010, the total cost of heavy vehicle related accidents involving fatalities and serious injuries was $2.7 billion.

The Road Safety Remuneration System would complement existing and new initiatives in the road transport industry such as the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, Albanese said.

“The Australian Government is committed to improving safety outcomes for truck drivers, while ensuring the long term viability of the road transport industry.”

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