Shane Burkinshaw has been in the business about 20 years, but he’s been around trucks as long as he can remember.
“I learnt from my dad, he’s been driving nearly 50 years and I’d go out with him as a kid,” he said.
Children rarely ride in large rigs anymore, and it’s not the only safety change Shane’s seen during his career.
“It’s changed a lot- we have to take breaks more regularly, there are point-to-point cameras everywhere and the log books tell you when you have to sleep,” he said.
Drivers are heavily regulated, but it hasn’t stopped the NSW fatalities involving heavy vehicles going up a staggering 86 per cent in 12 months.
In the 12 months to September, deaths involving articulated vehicles have leapt from 29 to 54, according to data released by the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics. In all other states, fatalities decreased in the same quarter.
Geoff Crouch, chair of peak industry body the Australian Trucking Association and managing director of Wagga’s Ron Crouch Transport, says something needs to change.
“Truck drivers' work and rest times are already very tightly regulated and the regulations we have, have been demonstrated to work by the reduction in heavy serious accidents in every other state,” he said.
“It’s only in NSW and the NT they are not working and there’s no definitive data detailing the cause.
“We need to have the Australian Transport Safety Bureau investigate these accidents and come back with recommendations and at the moment that’s not being done.”
According to the BITRE, around 80 per cent of multi-vehicle crashes involving trucks aren’t the truck driver’s fault.
Shane says there’s a definite lack of awareness among many car drivers of truckies’ blind spots and stopping distances.
“People often pull into gaps and cut into spaces we’ve left to be safe behind traffic, you’ve really got to be on the ball all the time,” he said.
The NSW Department for Transport were contacted for comment but did not respond in time for publication.