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Pedestrian Council of Australia
Safety – Amenity – Access – Health

 

Media Release


Thursday 7 July 2005

 

COSTA’S TRUCK SUMMIT


(Being held in Newcastle TODAY)

Roads Minister Refuses to Apply Demerit Points
and Stiff Penalties to Log Book Offences

The Chairman of the PCA, Mr Harold Scruby, said today:  “For over seven years we have been trying to get the RTA to include Demerit Points and stiff penalties for truck-driver log-book offences.  Our letter to Mr Costa of 20 April and our Media Release of 13 June are attached.  They both remain unanswered.

 

“Mr Costa is renowned for holding ‘Instant Summits’ where the outcomes are pre-determined and he excludes those stakeholders who are likely to disagree with him.  For example, the Chairman of the STAYSAFE Committee, Bicycle NSW and the Pedestrian Council have all been excluded from yet another of Mr Costa’s ‘Road Safety’ Summits.  He refers to such people and organisations as ‘the usual suspects’.

 

“Mr Costa recently announced a wide range of new Demerit Point offences including 3 DPs for driving at 61 kmh in a 60 zone, 2 DPs for playing loud music, 3 DPs for an obstructed number-plate and 3 DPs for driving in a Bus Lane.  But strangely, there was no mention of any DPs for one of the most dangerous driving behaviours on our roads today – truck-driver fatigue. 

 

“Senior members of the truck driving union have claimed that up to 90% of truck drivers are on drugs.  They are on drugs to stay awake.  It follows that many are falsifying their log-books.  But the current penalty of $160 is an utter farce and no deterrent whatsoever when a valuable load is at stake and frequently the companies pay the fines.

 

Mr Scruby added:  “It is rumoured that many truck companies are paying speeding, log-book and dangerous parking fines on behalf of their drivers.  We ask that Mr Costa’s informs the Summit:

 

1 That the fines are not tax deductible.

2 That Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) is payable on the fine.

3 That if there is a death or serious injury resulting from this behaviour, then the directors can be sued and substantial punitive damages (even jail) can ensue for what is known as ‘contumelious disregard’ for the safety of others and actually encouraging and inviting illegal behaviour which is likely to result in death or serious injury.

 

“We are not alone in our call for DPs for log-book offences.  On 17 March 2003, in its Review of the NSW Demerit Points Scheme, Mr Peter Steele, Deputy CEO of the NRMA wrote to the RTA and requested the RTA consider 3 DPs and a $225 fine for this offence.

 

“Studies have shown that truck-driver fatigue is as dangerous as driving with a BAC of .08.

 

“In Victoria there is an automatic 10 Demerit Points and a $500 for drivers caught between .05 and .07.  If the potential for harm is approximately the same, it follows that the Demerit Points and fines should be the same.

 

“We call on Mr Costa to immediately state his intentions on this vitally important Road Safety issue before the end of the ‘Summit’.” Mr Scruby said. 

 

 

Harold Scruby - Chairman/CEO – Pedestrian Council of Australia - Tel: (02) 9968-4555   (0418) 110-011

Email: scruby@walk.com.au  Internet:  www.walk.com.au

Pedestrian Council of Australia
Safety – Amenity – Access – Health

 

Media Release

Tuesday 14 June 2005

 

TRUCK-DRIVER FATIGUE PENALTIES FARCICAL


Missing Link in the New Chain of Responsibility Law: the Drivers

Stiff Penalties, Including High Demerit Points, Must Apply to All Log-Book Offences

 

Following today’s news of the trucking industry’s “Chain of Responsibility Law”, the Chairman of the PCA, Harold Scruby responded: “We welcome the new Chain of Responsibility legislation, however, the chain has a missing link.  It must include the person behind the wheel.  Currently, a truck driver can drive from Perth to Sydney without a minute’s sleep, either without a log-book or falsifying all the details and not get one Demerit Point.  And the penalty is a farcical $164.   There is simply no realistic deterrent.  The rewards far outweigh the risks.

 

“We have been calling on the NSW Government to include Demerit Points for these offences for years.  On 20 April this year, we wrote to Mr Michael Costa, NSW Roads Minister about this vital Road Safety initiative (copy attached).  To date, we’ve received neither acknowledgement, nor reply” Mr Scruby said.

 

“On 17 March 2003, the NRMA wrote to the RTA in response to their Review of Fines and Demerit Points, recommending: ‘Trucks log books offences: Serious offence given fatigue issues in heavy vehicle industry: $225 and  3 (demerit) points.’

 

“Following an extensive inquiry into the Penalties and Demerit Points System, the NRMA published its position in March 2003:  ‘The demerit point scheme needs to be reviewed to ensure it is fair, consistent and focused on safety.  All safety-related offences should incur demerit points.   Penalties should be reviewed to ensure that offences that are more likely to endanger the community carry higher penalties.’

 

“Presently, in NSW, the scheme is anything but fair, consistent and focussed on safety.  Over the previous holiday weekend, there were 6 Demerit Points for not fastening a  seat-belt and another 6 DPs for travelling at 61 kmh in a 60 kmh zone.  But there are also 2 Demerit Points for playing loud music while driving and 3 DPs for driving in a Bus Lane, where nobody’s safety is compromised.”  Mr Scruby said.

 

“At the National Transport Commission & Australian Trucking Association Seminar of 1 March 2004, entitled “To Combat Speeding – Heavy Trucks”, the Communiqué recommended:  ‘There needs to be a more uniform national approach to speed management by aligning offences, tolerances and other deterrence measures such as demerit points.’

 

“Victoria Police collision investigation unit found that being tired is similar to being drunk, often with the same tragic outcome.  In Victoria, there are 10 Demerit Points (automatic) for low range drink-driving, yet none for truck drivers who falsify their log-books.

 

Mr Scruby added:  “There is a missing link in this new Chain of Responsibility law.  It includes extremely high monetary penalties for companies and even jail for employers and directors who pressure truck drivers to meet unrealistic deadlines, yet it ignores the person who is ultimately responsible; the driver.  The evidence proves that fatigue is as lethal as drink-driving.  If the potential for harm is about the same, it follows that the penalties for falsification or not keeping a true and accurate log-book should be the same or similar to low-range drink-driving.  We call on all State and Territory governments to urgently implement these changes.  At a minimum, the penalties should include a $500 fine and 6 Demerit Points, or even loss of licence.” Mr Scruby said. 

 

Harold Scruby - Chairman/CEO – Pedestrian Council of Australia - Tel: (02) 9968-4555   (0418) 110-011

Email: scruby@walk.com.au  Internet:  www.walk.com.au

Sydney Morning Herald – Saturday 27 August 2005

 

Trucking greed 'out of control'

 

A judge has attacked the trucking industry for being "out of control" and consumed by greed when sentencing the driver of a semitrailer for an accident in which a woman and her son were killed.

 

In the District Court, Judge Geoff Graham said it was a constant theme within the industry for retail and corporate representatives, consumed by "sheer greed", to impose intolerable interstate deadlines and timetable pressures on drivers.

 

Drivers were the "poor bunnies" who landed in court and then jail after driving when they were too tired, taking illegal drugs to delay fatigue and ultimately killing other motorists, he said.

 

While the primary responsibilities lay with drivers, Judge Graham said that people further up the industry chain who exerted the pressures should share the responsibilities.

 

He dismissed as a joke safety measures, such as speed cameras, driver logbooks and speed-limited trucks, because they were not adequately enforced.

 

Judge Graham made the attack in East Maitland District Court yesterday in sentencing Randall John Harm, 36, of Gatton, Queensland, who pleaded guilty to three counts of dangerous driving.

 

The Rothbury family of Sally Anne Sullivan, 48, her son Zachariah, 18, and her partner Dennis Arthur Beddall, 57, were in a sedan waiting at a red light amid roadworks on Allandale Road, Rothbury, on September 3, 2003, when Harm's fully laden truck ran into the back of them.

 

Ms Sullivan and Zac died at the scene and Mr Beddall, who is also a truck driver, suffered head and other injuries.

Judge Graham disqualified Harm from driving for five years and sentenced him to a total of four years and nine months in jail, with three years non-parole.

 

After the verdict, Mr Beddall called for the industry to be cleaned up and drivers to stop taking drugs.

 

 

The Newcastle Herald



© This work is copyright and is reproduced under licence from John Fairfax Holdings Limited

 

 

The PCA wrote to then NSW Minister for Roads, Hon Michael Costa in March 2005 regarding Demerit Points for log-boog offences.  After repeated requests, we did not receive a reply until 23 December 2005, from his successor, the Hon Joe Tripodi, stating he did not support Demerit Points for this offence.

 
 


 

Premier of Queensland

The Honourable Peter Beattie

Monday, February 20, 2006

 

ROAD SAFETY SUMMIT TO TACKLE FATIGUE

 

This week’s Road Safety Summit will turn the spotlight on rogue transport companies who force drivers to cut corners and break the law, Premier Peter Beattie said today.

 

The Premier, speaking at the Community Cabinet meeting in Bundaberg, said the State Government was keen to pursue options that could help reduce driver fatigue.

 

He said tougher penalties for heavy vehicle drivers and other operators was one issue that would be considered at the Summit.

 

“Anyone who plays a role in road transport – from consignors such as supermarkets, through to drivers and customers – should be held accountable for their actions,” Mr Beattie said.

 

“Since the introduction of chain of responsibility legislation in 1998, Queensland Transport has led the field with 324 successful prosecutions for driving hours offences.

 

Queensland was the first state to do so and we will stay at the forefront to make sure our roads are safer for everyone.

 

“I want to send out a loud message that these rogues of industry who push their drivers to work excessive hours will not be tolerated.”

 

Minister for Transport and Main Roads, Paul Lucas said crashes involving heavy vehicles on Queensland roads in 2005 resulted in 49 deaths, almost seven per cent of all fatalities.

 

"This does not mean that in all cases heavy vehicles were at fault, but we’re serious about tackling the issue and want to look at workable ways to turn these statistics around,” Mr Lucas said.

 

"I want the summit to look at introducing even tougher penalties to target unsafe heavy vehicle drivers and operators."

 

“I have reports of rogue transport companies paying the fines of drivers involved in logbook offences and that means the driver is under no penalty for what is a significant safety issue.

 

“I make no apology in ensuring our chain of responsibility legislation targets the operators rather than the drivers and the truckies.

 

“But drivers must also bear responsibility and introducing demerit points for logbook offences is worth a very serious look.

 

“This is only a small minority of the industry who put safety at risk and undercut the earnings of decent truckies and trucking companies.

 

“The majority of drivers do the right thing. They behave responsibly, and I want those drivers who feel pressured to breach driving hours regulations, or who know of companies that are doing the wrong thing to come forward.”

 

 

There are around 75,000 trucks registered in Queensland. There are on average around 45 log book offences for breaches of driving hours each year in Queensland.

 

Queensland Transport is a party to the heavy vehicle fatigue reforms being developed at a national level by the National Transport Commission.

 

Demerit points are being considered as part of the package which will be out for public consultation mid-year.

 

“Last year, I raised this idea at the Australian Transport Council meeting for work at the national level, but with a spate of accidents involving heavy vehicles, particularly on major highways, Queensland should seriously consider going it alone, if we can’t get agreement,” Mr Lucas said.

 

Representatives of the heavy vehicle industry, including associations and unions, will attend the summit to discuss proposed measures with road safety researchers and other experts.

 

The summit will be held at Parliament House on Tuesday and Wednesday, 21 and 22 February. Proceedings can be heard online at http://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/view/chamber, while public comment and feedback can be made online at www.roadsafety.qld.gov.au/summit until 17 March 2006.

 

 

 

 

Media Contact: Office of the Premier Paul Cronin 0418 795 940

 

Office of the Minister for Transport Ellen McIntyre 0438 768 734