Truck insurer warns of fatigue, ageing drivers

Speeding continues to be the biggest cause of major truck accidents, according to research by heavy motor specialist National Transport Insurance (NTI).

This year’s Major Accident Investigation Report, which was launched at an event in Brisbane this morning, analyses serious crashes in 2013 with losses exceeding $50,000.

There were 549 such incidents reported to NTI, costing $71.7 million.

Inappropriate speed for the conditions accounted for 27% of claims, with almost three-quarters of speed losses resulting in vehicle rollover.

Fatigue caused 12.8% of losses, the worst result since 2007.

Most crashes took place Monday to Wednesday, and 67% were on outward journeys.

Victoria was the best-performing state and Queensland the worst. More than 71% of all crashes surveyed were single-vehicle accidents.

NTI Industry Affairs Manager Owen Driscoll told “complacency has crept back in” concerning fatigue, after reforms in 2008/09. “We’ve ticked that box and moved on, and that is a problem.”

He says increasing driver age could become an issue.

“We are looking at the same batch of drivers that are just getting older. If you are going to use older drivers you need to retrain them. In 10 years we could be in a total mess, with 74-year-olds driving B-doubles.”

The transport industry has not done enough to make itself attractive to younger people, he says. “As an insurance company we do not get scared off by younger drivers.”

Mr Driscoll told the overall message is positive, with major crash rates declining 35% since 2002.

“We’ve come a long way but we still need to put what we are doing under the microscope.”


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