The Transport Workers’ Union is calling for more accountability of transport operators and companies which hire them, as the trial opens of a truck driver following the deaths of two people in Mona Vale in Sydney in 2013.
Truck driver Shane Day faces serious charges in a Sydney court after his oil tanker turned over and went on fire in the horrific incident. A nationwide audit of his employer Cootes found hundreds of defects in the trucking fleet. The fleet was grounded and the company was fined $500,000.
“What we are seeing in today’s case, as has occurred in many cases before, is that the driver is carrying the entire burden for an industry in crisis. Neither the transport company nor the client whose fuel he was carrying are in the dock over corners they cut which led to safety risks,” said TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon.
“If someone is killed because a vehicle is not maintained properly or because the driver is pushed to work long hours then justice can only be served when those responsible are held to account,” Mr Sheldon added.
Major retailers and manufacturers are continually cutting transport costs. This forces transport operators to spend less on their trucks, pressures drivers to break the law and cut their rates. Because of this trucks are not maintained, vehicles are over loaded and drivers are forced to skip breaks, drive faster, for longer hours in a stressed and tired state.
This is why trucking is Australia’s deadliest profession with drivers 15 times more likely to die at work than any other profession. It is also the reason for 330 deaths every year in truck-related crashes.
“Responsibility for carnage on our roads needs to go all the way up the supply chain. Prosecutors, governments and regulators must look at the chain of responsibility laws and ensure they are capable of holding those ultimately to blame for the daily tragedies to account,” Mr Sheldon added.