Getting more freight off the roads is the quickest, simplest and cheapest way to improve their safety, says Ports Australia chief executive officer Mike Gallacher.
“Australia is an island nation with ports up and down our coastline connecting every major town and city to each other via the blue highway,” he said.
“Our ports are there, they are connected and they are open for business and we need the government to see that and start using this country’s freight network effectively.
“Shipping is by far the most economical and environmentally sound way of moving freight. We have to start removing unnecessary truck movements off the roads that we all use and not rely simply on extra regulation and new technology.”
Mr Gallacher said shipping must be a central pillar of the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy being developed by the government.
He was commenting after three fatal truck crashes within two days in New South Wales, leaving five people dead.
TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon called for action, saying truck drivers were under pressure to speed and work gruelling hours to meet unrealistic deadlines as those at the top of the supply chain squeezed operators.
The union pointed to the Senate committee approval last year of a report recommending that the Government facilitate industry talks to “establish an independent industry body which has the power to formulate, implement and enforce supply chain standards and accountability as well as sustainable, safe rates for the transport industry”.
Meanwhile the Australian Logistics Council (ALC) endorsed a six-point plan to enhance national heavy vehicle safety, proposed in a letter to the Prime Minister from Toll Group managing director Michael Byrne.
“The proposals contained in the plan are entirely consistent with longstanding ALC policy, and offer a clear pathway to delivering improved road safety, not only for heavy vehicles, but for all road users,” ALC managing director Michael Kilgariff said.
He said the Federal Government should immediately pursue a national operator licencing system.
“Similarly, moving to the mandatory use of telematics is another crucial step in enhancing the safety of heavy vehicles. Telematics devices will help identify those operators who are consistently and deliberately disregarding laws relating to speed, driver fatigue and vehicle load limits,” Mr Kilgariff said.
Data from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) shows 216 people died from 197 fatal crashes involving heavy trucks or buses nationwide in the 12 months to October 2017.