Truck accident deaths soar in VIC

15-02-2011

Truck accidents killed 50 per cent more people on Victorian roads last year than the year before.

And the federal government has vowed to combat truck drivers' dangerous working conditions, which have been linked to drug-taking and fatigue.

Statistics released recently show that crashes involving heavy vehicles led to 60 deaths in Victoria last year – a 50 per cent increase from the 40 the previous year.

Truck-related deaths jumped to 21 per cent of the state's total road toll, which had dropped to a record low of 287.

Deputy Commissioner for Road Policing Kieran Walshe said he had requested an analysis of all collisions involving heavy vehicles last year that had injured or killed people, to determine why each of those crashes had happened and how they could have been prevented.

Of the 60 people killed by heavy vehicle collisions last year, 11 were truck drivers, 20 were car drivers, 14 were passengers, five were motorcyclists, five pedestrians and five were cyclists. Twenty-seven of the crashes were in metropolitan Melbourne.

Professor Bill Russell, deputy director of Melbourne University's Australasian Centre for the Governance and Management of Urban Transport, said Australians would be safer if more freight was moved by rail. But instead, the number of trucks on the roads was increasing rapidly while rail's share of cargo was decreasing.

His research showed that moving 10 per cent more freight by rail would save 25 lives in Australia every year, and 100 serious injuries such as quadriplegia or brain damage.

''It is really important that we try to transfer many categories of heavy freight to rail and we need stronger policies to do that,'' he said.

About 330 people are killed in Australia each year because of heavy vehicle accidents.

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