Heavy vehicle drivers campaign
CROSSES bearing the number 287 were lined up along Lismore’s Ballina St bridge on Saturday.
They were put there by the Transport Workers Union (TWU) to remind motorists of the number of road deaths involving heavy vehicles in 2009.
But there was a broader point to the road safety message, according to TWU sub-branch secretary Mick Forbes.
He said financial pressures on truck drivers was a big contributor to heavy vehicle accidents and that fatal accidents would continue to occur until this was sorted out.
“This is a public awareness campaign because the average Joe Blow doesn’t understand how a truck driver is paid,” Mr Forbes said.
“Drivers and owner-drivers are not paid enough to make their business viable.”
A driver could spend up to 20 hours a week waiting to be unloaded at delivery centres but were not reimbursed for that time, he said.
Drivers needed to make up for this lost time, and so were forced to cut corners. This could be in a reduction in maintenance standards, by working longer hours, or by going over the speed limit.
A truck may represent an investment that is based on a second mortgage on a driver’s house, Mr Forbes said.
“So if they can’t make their business pay, they lose everything – their truck, their income, their homes.
“Big retail clients can afford to pay the large transport operators properly, so they can pay their drivers properly,” he said.
“We are calling on all levels of government to provide legislation that will ensure that all waiting time is paid for; that there is fair remuneration for maintenance costs; and that there is some hedge provided against fluctuating fuel costs.”
Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell attended the rally and said the ‘number of deaths really hits you when you see the crosses like that’.
“Whenever there is an accident on the Pacific Highway and the roads are closed, residents are on to me asking what’s going to be done about road safety. “