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Action needed on road safety this election

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11 April 2019

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) has called on Australia’s political leaders to use the election campaign to pledge strong action on road safety. 

“As the federal election campaign begins, the ATA will stand up for the 50,000 businesses and 200,000 people in the Australian trucking industry to make sure our views are heard loud and clear by all sides of the political spectrum,” ATA Chair Geoff Crouch said today.   

“We will continue our engagement with federal politicians and candidates to raise the important issues we care about and hold them to account in getting serious about road safety,’ he said. 

Mr Crouch said the ATA welcomed the federal budget’s $2.2 billion for roads and road safety, including the establishment of a new federal office of road safety and funding for new and better rest areas.   

“We want to reach our target of zero fatalities or serious injuries on the roads. It’s an ambitious goal that we can, and must, achieve. We are making progress, but more needs to be done,” Mr Crouch said.    

“To reach this target we need to better understand why accidents occur. That’s why we want to see the role of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau extended to provide independent, no blame safety investigations for road crashes involving heavy vehicles,” he said. 

He said the ATA was focused on mandating safety technologies for new trucks, fixing the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) and fixing truck accreditation. 

“The next government must act faster to mandate advanced safety technologies for new trucks, such as electronic braking, which stops rollovers. This must become mandatory for new rigid trucks as well as semi-trailers, and autonomous emergency braking must be brought in for new trucks as soon as possible. 

“The next federal government must lead the states in the Heavy Vehicle National Law system to deliver  more flexibility on work and rest hours, as well as fixing road access so we can increase our industry’s productivity. 

“The ATA has long argued that the National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme breaches the competitive neutrality policy agreed by the Australian and state governments. 

“Operators accredited by this government business receive regulatory benefits that operators in comparable private schemes - including the ATA’s TruckSafe scheme – do not get,” he said. 

Mr Crouch said the ATA was united in its response to the Labor Party’s plan to impose enforceable payments and related conditions, if elected. 

“With our member organisations, we have had constructive discussions with the Labor Party about how this could be done, if it is elected. 

“Everyone should be paid sustainably and promptly, although the original tribunal tried to fix prices between businesses. It was doomed to failure,” Mr Crouch said. 

“The ATA and its members particularly support practical measures that would assist owner-drivers and small fleet operators, such as mandatory 30-day payment terms,” he said. 

Mr Crouch said the next government should focus its work on road charging on electric vehicles, not trucks. 

“At present, the government is looking at ways of imposing direct charges on trucking operators, instead of the registration and fuel charges we pay now. 

“The priority needs to be introducing direct charging for electric vehicles, even if the charge is set at a low level to encourage their uptake. 

“Otherwise, the take up of electric vehicles by Australians will blow a huge hole in government revenue,” he said.