Safety truck to share vital road safety message

Motorists are being urged to educate themselves on how to safely share busy stretches of roads like Coalfields Highway with heavy vehicles.

The message from the Industry Road Safety Alliance South West (IRSA-SW) comes as longer trucks are about to start using the whole of Coalfields Highway and the number of heavy vehicles on the route reaches peaks last seen in 2009.

IRSA-SW chairman Simon Dent said the real danger posed by the mix of heavy and light vehicle on our region’s roads was the main reason for bringing the Australian Trucking Association’s award-winning Safety Truck to Collie on Wednesday, 21 September.

Of the 88 road fatalities in WA during the first six months of 2016, 12 involved a truck. Across Australia in 2015, 211 people were killed in crashes involving heavy vehicles. In about 80 per cent of fatal multiple-vehicle crashes, fault was not assigned to the heavy vehicle driver.

Visitors to the Safety Truck will be able to sit in the prime mover cab to get a truck driver’s perspective as well as take in truckies’ top tips such as not cutting in front of their vehicles, not overtaking when they were turning, and avoiding blind spots. Members of the public are encouraged to visit the truck at Collie Senior High School, between 11am-1pm.

The IRSA-SW – which takes in industry as well as local and state government players around Collie, Bunbury and Boddington – is coordinating the Collie visit on behalf of Transafe WA, which is heading a State-wide tour.

Mr Dent said the IRSA-SW believed it was important to bring the valuable educational tool to the Collie and Bunbury area given about 750 heavy vehicles a day currently shared Coalfields Highway with more than 4,000 light vehicles. The numbers are even higher on South Western Highway between Roelands and Bunbury.

He said motorists also needed to be aware that longer trucks would soon start using the full stretch of Coalfields Highway. At present, only road trains up to 27.5 metres in length can make the descent down Roelands Hill. That will soon change to road trains up to 36.5 metres long. The change follows feedback from the transport industry that longer vehicles should be allowed to make the trip because recent upgrades to Coalfields Highway had led to safety improvements.

The timing coincides with the completion of a $1.37 million upgrade of Roeland’s Hill heavy vehicle bay on Coalfields Highway, which increases its capacity from five road trains to 12. The work is part of a $48 million upgrade of Coalfields Highway from west of the Wellington Dam turn-off to just west of the town of Collie.

Since 2009 when the upgrade of Coalfields Highway started in earnest, the number of crashes on Coalfields Highway has fallen by more than 40 percent. The IRSA-SW was formed around this time and has been credited with helping bring down the trauma rate through its lobbying, education and awareness efforts, and traffic coordination.

For more information, contact Suellen Jerrard, 0417 949 817