Truckies call for lower speed limits
National Heavy Haulage
Logistics Solutions, Transport and Logistics, Truck Drivers
The tragic road death of a four year old girl from Mt Gambier in November, last month has prompted South Australian truck driver Mick Coulter to call for changes to variable speed limits and better warning signs for cars.
At about 7.20am on the morning of Wednesday 20 November, Mick was crawling down the South Eastern Freeway into Adelaide at about 30km/hr when a van carrying the girl and her mother ploughed into the back of his b-double with an impact that ‘shunted him in his seat’ and buckled his steel trailer.
In the emotional A Current Affair plea, Mick makes a good case for reducing speed limits for cars, explaining “The [speed] gap between a fully loaded truck going down there at 30km/h and a car going down there at 100km/hr is just too big. It’s always going to end in tears.” he says.
Although Mick was not at fault, he is one of the 25% of truck drivers who suffer road trauma on the job. Trans-Help is an organisation dedicated to providing support services to these truck drivers and their families and they’re leading the charge for a reduction in speed limits for cars on notorious black spots.
Innocent drivers receive life sentences
Trans-Help CEO Diane Carroll tells ACA that she dealt with 5 fatalities involving truck drivers in the same week. Only one of them is considered to be the fault of the truck driver. Regardless, the devastating effects of a fatal crash reverberate far beyond immediate friends and family of the victims, making the work of Trans-Help extremely important for the wellbeing of drivers. In the case of Mick Coulter, she comments “He’s got a life sentence”.
While Trans-Help and many drivers agree that reducing the speed differential on notorious blind spots is worth a try to save lives, not everyone does. Both NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Superintendent John Hartley and Peter Khoury of the NRMA are yet to be convinced there’s a need for new speed limits. Instead they believe the answer lies in educating drivers to ‘drive to the conditions’ and maintain awareness.
Australia’s notorious killer zones
The ‘3 lanes of madness’ that Mike calls the South Eastern Freeway is only one of a number of notorious danger zones reported in the ACA story. In WA, truckers get nervous about Greenmount Hill, Red Hill and Bedfordale Hill. NSW’s killer zones are Mount Ousley, Pacific Highway at Mt White and the Great Western Highway at Victoria Pass. While in Queensland, the Toowoomba range is renowned for its fatalities, both on the Warrego and Cunningham Highways as well as the New England Highway at Greenmount.
In all these locations, even three lanes doesn’t stop motorists ploughing into the back of trucks in low gear… nearly always with catastrophic outcomes.
Education, Legislation or both?
The Australian Trucking Association’s ‘Safety Truck’ and road safety tips for cars are actively working toward educating car drivers about driving safely with trucks, but we believe Mick, Trans-Help and so many other drivers are right… more needs to be done.
Unlike SP Hartley and Mr Khoury, truckers who see near misses on a daily basis (and the unlucky ones who have to live with the trauma of accidents), don’t need to wait for empirical data and scientific proof to call for a change to speed limits. Even if one life is saved because cars slow down, it would be worth it.
The National Heavy Haulage drivers spend thousands of hours on the road so road safety is of paramount importance to us. We urge anyone reading this article to take the time to explain to their loved ones (especially any P platers and especially in the lead up to the holiday season), how to drive safely with trucks. All too often, car drivers simply don’t realise how slow we have to travel when loaded, or how long it takes a truck to stop or turn. National Heavy Haulage wants not only their drivers to get home safely but the general public as well.
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