Road Freight NSW demands action on driver education

Road Freight NSW (RFNSW) has called upon the Federal Government to create a national working group to better educate motorists on interacting with heavy vehicles.

RFNSW General Manager, Simon O’Hara, announced the plan when he appeared before the Senate’s Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee this week – pointing out the working group had to be industry-led to be successful.

“Greater engagement and education on the roads, particularly with regard to light vehicles, is essential,” he said with view to road safety, adding that distracted drivers are a growing concern.

“Studies [show] that 80 per cent of collisions are caused by motorists whose attention is taken away from the road by their passengers, phones, GPS, radio, eating drinking and smoking,” he said.

“Alarmingly, distractions are now deemed to be the single biggest cause of crashes and near misses, with road users who take their eyes off the road for two seconds or longer, doubling their crash risk. If drivers get that message and pay attention, that’s one simple way of trying to achieve safer roads for all users alike.

As such, he recommended the establishment of a working committee to “scope out better ways to educate light vehicle users and cyclists” in their interactions with heavy vehicle users.

At the hearing, O’Hara also raised another critical issue impacting carriers – “crippling new surcharges” being imposed by stevedores DP World Australia and Patrick on truck operators at Port Botany.

“A large proportion of the rationale for these charges, as we understand it, is around rent increases. But only last week we learnt from NSW Ports that rent has actually decreased at the Ports from 2013 (pre-privatisation, ed.) to 2017,” he explained.

“RFNSW believes these port charges place further pressures on an industry already working with slim profits and costly overheads.”

O’Hara said the “questionable behaviour” from the stevedores should be “properly explained and built on a firm foundation of empirical evidence that justifies the rationale for this additional financial burden on carriers.

“Ultimately, the consumer in one form or another pays the cost and if road transport users can’t understand why they are being taxed (and invoiced early) for using the stevedores – then perhaps the Australian consumer who will likely bear these costs deserves an explanation.”

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