Sick To Death Of It

20131002-014432.jpgWhilst the temptation to use the bullbar to “gently shepard” an annoying road use over the fog line is often present I think the reality is that as Professional Drivers we’re more often than not doing our best to prevent accidents.

As annual vehicle registrations continue to increase the grim fact is that the statistical likelihood of an accident is likewise going to increase so it’s heartening to see annual road fatalities continue to fall in number. My own observations would suggest that this improvement is due to better road and vehicle safety standards, as the skill set displayed by many drivers is sadly lacking.

For many years the Australian Truckie has shouldered a lot of blame for the carnage on our roads and it’s possibly warranted in a few cases. Certainly, a heavy vehicle accident is far more likely to have a poor outcome due to the weights involved. I think most of us worked out at Primary School that getting a smack on the nose from a big kid usually hurts more than one from a runt.

If our industry needs one thing more than any other it’s a PR Manager that can change public perceptions as I’m quite sure much of the on road angst could be reduced by a little more understanding from our fellow road users.

It’s a shame then that opportunities are missed to improve upon our public perception… Take for example the Prospero Productions, “Outback Truckers” series. Here was a chance for viewers to see what it’s all about, however thanks to the media’s thirst for the spectacular and what can only be described as some amateur actions by some of the drivers (that possibly suffered undue infamy at the hands of the editor) the opportunity was missed.

Missed opportunity doesn’t restrict itself to the realms of the silver screen though. Having watched the recently aired story on ACA, entitled “Truck Widows” (http://aca.ninemsn.com.au/article/8732072/widows-join-forces-to-save-truckies), telling the story of the brilliant ladies that stand behind the Transhelp Foundation (http://www.transhelpfoundation.com.au) my ears pricked when I heard that 250 truck drivers die each year as that would be more than four every week! It’s not the first time I’ve heard this erroneous and misleading figure either… Steven Corcran of “Truckies Danger Money” notoriety has been quoted using this figure along with the claim in a recent Big Rigs article (http://www.bigrigs.com.au/news/split-on-danger-money/1504562) that truck drivers are “30 times more likely to die on the job than other professions”.

Every death is one too many but bandying erroneous figures like these about reinforces the public perception that every truck is an accident waiting to happen and the unwashed oaf behind the wheel is hell bent on their gruesome demise.

So let’s have a look at the real figures… The Department of Infrastructure and Transport, quoted in an Owner Driver articles (http://www.ownerdriver.com.au/news/articleid/73541.aspx) has stated “During the 12 months to the end of September 2010, 250 people died from 209 crashes involving heavy trucks or buses,” and that “Overall, there were 153 deaths from 127 crashes involving articulated trucks.”, this of course includes everyone who died as a result of an accident involving a heavy vehicle, regardless of what vehicle they were in or even if they were a pedestrian and is a far cry from the previously stated numbers. In a more recent report (http://www.bitre.gov.au/publications/ongoing/files/fhvc2_2012_oct_dec.pdf) the same department shows the 2012 figures as 92 driver deaths resulting from accidents involving heavy vehicles and once again this is all drivers regardless of their vehicle class. With over 90,000 articulated vehicles registered in Australia I think we’ve done well to have so few involved in fatal accidents but of course there’s little news in these facts.

Sure, it’s not the safest job in the world but its not as bad as we’re lead to believe, we just need to remain Professional and represent ourselves the best we can.

Keep it Safe, Mat.