- Seven heavy vehicle occupants were killed in 2020, a significant drop from the 13 deaths in 2019.
- On average 5 heavy vehicle occupants die each year.
- Three of those that died in 2020 were not wearing a seatbelt, or 42%.
- In 2020, all that died were male and all were in single vehicle crashes.
- 71% of the crashes were in regional Victoria.
- In the last five years, an average of 330 people per year have been admitted to hospital as a result of crashes involving heavy vehicles.
- Around 30 drivers of heavy vehicles are hospitalised each year after a crash.
- 1/3 of heavy vehicles involve fatigue.
- Due to the weight of heavy vehicles the damage caused in a crash will be greater.
How to improve your safety as a heavy vehicle driver
While most heavy vehicle drivers and operators do the right thing, some of the common factors in heavy vehicle road trauma include speed, fatigue, impaired driving and unroadworthy vehicles.
As a heavy vehicle driver you can be more exposed to risks on our roads due to traveling longer distances and spending more time behind the wheel.
Being alert behind the wheel, slowing down, putting your phone away and separating drinking and drug taking from driving, are all basics that apply to anyone getting behind the wheel of any vehicle.
- Rest - Try to ensure you have enough rest between shifts and during the day. It’s recommended to have a break after every two hours of driving. There are laws around fatigue management in the heavy vehicle industry. Find out more on the NHVR website
- Wear your seatbelt - Your seatbelt can be the difference between life and death in a crash.
- Keep your distance - Make sure you have enough distance between you and the vehicle in front in case you need to stop quickly.
- Avoid distractions – Using your phone while driving is dangerous. In 2 seconds you’ll travel at least 28m when driving at 50kmh.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol - Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol increases crash risk. The risk still remains in the hours after drinking or drug use, this can lead to fatigue and slower reaction times. It's a requirement for drivers of vehicles over 4.5 tonne to have a 0.00 BAC. Find out more on the VicRoads website.
- Maintain your vehicle - Ensure that your vehicle is in good condition and it’s safe to drive on the road.
- Be aware of other road users – people on bicycles and motorcycles can be harder to see when driving a large vehicle. Always look for riders and pedestrians when driving, especially at intersections and when turning.
For more information on heavy vehicle safety, visit the VicRoads website
How to be safe around heavy vehicles
A recent study from the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) found that many of the crashes involving heavy vehicles and passenger vehicles are the fault of the motorist.
There are some simple steps that can be taken to be safer around heavy vehicles, including:
- Blind spots - Most trucks have large blind spots. Know where they are and make sure the driver can see you.
- Stopping distance - Trucks take longer than other vehicles to stop. Don’t drive in the gap that is required for a truck to stop safely.
- Overtaking - When overtaking a truck, be patient and wait for a safe opportunity.
- Speed - Be aware of the conditions and travel at an appropriate speed.
- Turning trucks - Don’t overtake or travel beside a turning truck. Heavy vehicles need more space to turn.
Riding safely around heavy vehicles
When you’re riding a bicycle or motorcycle you’re at greater risk of injury if you’re in a collision with a truck.
Many of the same tips apply for staying safe. Crashes at intersections are common for people on bicycles and often involve trucks.
- Left turning vehicles – if a truck is turning left make sure you’re not beside the vehicle. The driver may not be able to see you when they turn.
- Intersections – wait behind turning vehicles rather than positioning yourself in front of the vehicle.
- Be aware of the length of the truck – some trucks are also towing trailers, often known as dog trailers. The truck may be longer than you expect meaning that it’s not yet safe to pass or turn.
Whether you’re behind the wheel of a truck or sharing the road with one, we all have a responsibility to keep each other safe every time we use the road.
What we are doing about truck safety
Programs and initiatives dedicated to improving heavy vehicle safety for all road users, include:
- A $1-million heavy vehicle training program in partnership with the Victorian Transport Association, and other providers, to put drivers through their paces to improve driving skills and develop safety-first attitudes.
- The Victorian Heavy Vehicle Licensing and Employment Pathways Review to examine the heavy vehicle licensing system, driver competency and safety.
- The $850,000 road-side fatigue testing trial to see if roadside testing for extreme fatigue can be conducted in a similar way to current roadside alcohol and drug testing.