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Cars at fault in 82% of fatal crashes with trucks: report

Date: 02 September 2011

Car (non-truck) drivers are at fault in 8 out of 10 fatal accidents that involve a truck and another vehicle, according to the latest study into serious truck accidents by the National Transport Insurance (NTI) accident research centre.

The NTI 2011 Major Accident Investigation Report found that in 7 out of 10 major truck accidents there are no other vehicles involved. However, in fatal crashes involving other vehicles, the other driver was at fault in 82% of the accidents.

NTI has reinforced the findings of its National Truck Accident Research Centre (NTARC) study following the broadcast last week of footage that showed a crash between a truck and car in a busy tunnel. Truck drivers hit back saying that car drivers are the root cause of many accidents.

The investigation covered 323 major crash incidents (>$50,000 in value) from 2009 with a combined cost of $44m. The NTI 2011 Major Accident Investigation Report also found:

  • Inappropriate speed for the conditions and fatigue are the leading causes of serious truck accidents at 41.9%. Fatigue-related serious truck crashes have reduced by 50% since the last study
  • NSW has 36.5% of major truck crashes, a figure which has worsened since the 2007 NTI truck crash incident data analysis
  • Victoria has an improved result, with WA and Queensland overrepresented in major truck accidents relative to the freight task. Queensland’s Bruce and Warrego Highways were the worst with proportionally more incidents than any other major roads.
  • Losses on the Hume dropped substantially since 2003, from 11.1% to 2.5% of major truck crashes
  • The bigger they are, the safer they are – B Doubles carry 46% of freight yet account for only 28% of serious truck crashes.

NTI has used the research to establish a new panel of experts to address safety issues within the road transport industry. The new AllRoads Safety Advisory Board will take the scope of the NTARC beyond analysis of truck accidents, to finding practical actions that would improve road safety for all road users.

Advisory Board Member and author of the 2011 NTI Major Accident Investigation Report Owen Driscoll said NTI believed that truck accident research was a prerequisite for achieving sustainable safety improvements for all road users.

“We hope by creating this Advisory Board to the NTARC we’ll move closer to recommending changes that could make a real difference, not just for truck drivers, but for everyone on our roads. This signals a new era for the research centre in working to impact road safety in Australia.”

Chair of the AllRoads Safety Advisory Board, Melbourne University researcher and logistics consultant Associate Professor Kim Hassall, has worked with the world’s largest freight companies.

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