Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

No single obvious cause for truck crashes

Victorian Roads Minister Terry Mulder briefed on Shepparton region's spate of truck crashes.

DARREN LINTON October 9, 2012 5:44am

A Country Fire Authority firefighter hoses down the burnt wreckage of the B-double truck that crashed on Hume Fwy near Violet Town on October 2. The driver died in the crash.

Victorian Roads Minister Terry Mulder concedes heavy vehicle fatigue laws may need to be reviewed in the wake of a spike in truck crashes.

There have been a dozen truck crashes on the region’s roads since September 1, but Mr Mulder said he had been told there was no single explanation for the incidents.

‘‘If we ever have a spike in a particular type of accident, there is always an analysis of the information to try and work out what is the cause of it,’’ Mr Mulder said yesterday.

‘‘If there is a particular cause, then it is dealt with as an infrastructure change, or speed limits or whatever.

‘‘That work is ongoing and what I do know is there is no single cause of the recent crashes on the Hume Fwy.

‘‘I know some of those have had tragic consequences and have been very disruptive, but VicRoads ... I had a discussion in my office with them last week and they said there is no obvious single cause.’’

Mr Mulder, who has his own heavy vehicle licence, said in more than 50 per cent of crashes the cause was not the heavy vehicle driver.

Mr Mulder accepted anecdotal evidence from truck drivers the national fatigue management system often forced them to rest when they were not tired and continue driving when they needed a break.

‘‘I don’t dispute outright what the drivers are saying,’’ Mr Mulder said.

‘‘If it is not working, if it is causing a problem, then that needs to be looked at again.’’

The minister also raised his own concerns about the logbook regime, which he said took no account of the driver’s condition at the start of a shift.

He said recovery from illness, disturbed sleep the night before and a range of other factors could affect a driver.

‘‘It is something that I’ve always been concerned about and I have raised concerns about that issue at a national level,’’ he said.

‘‘I’m not 100 per cent convinced that the current arrangements give us the best possible outcome.

‘‘I believe we need to have another look at it.’’

State Member for Benalla Bill Sykes said an investigation was warranted.

‘‘The recent spate of truck accidents and fatalities has highlighted an ongoing problem of accidents on seemingly good sections of road,’’ Dr Sykes said.

‘‘The starting point should be a review of existing data and identifying risk factors of which fatigue, boredom and driver inexperience are commonly suggested factors.’’

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