A new report   has found that during COVID Australia’s roads were the safest they’ve been in years, with the number of multi-vehicle crashes involving heavy vehicles down more than 16 per cent. 

Major truck insurer NTI funds  the National Truck Accident Research Centre (NTARC) which has just published its 10th, and now annual, national report into the cause of major crashes involving heavy vehicles. 

NTARC author, Adam Gibson, of NTI, said the positive findings came despite more trucks and freight being on Australian roads, particularly during the pandemic. 

Since 2003, when the first NTARC report was released, the number of freight movements and heavy vehicles has increased by 50 per cent. 

“The industry should be congratulated for keeping Australia moving and for keeping supermarket shelves stocked especially during COVID lockdowns,” Adam Gibson said. 

The report found evidence road safety messaging is working with fatigue-related crashes involving heavy vehicles down from 27 per cent in 2005 to eight per cent last year. 

“There’s been a massive reduction in multi-vehicle crashes involving trucks and the lowest number of fatigue-related crashes since NTI began keeping records 18 years ago. It is a credit to the industry, truck drivers and all road users.” 

Technology and smart trucks are key to further driving down the road toll. The report found one in eight truck crashes were due to inappropriate speed for the conditions, however this did not mean the vehicles were exceeding the speed limit. 

“Speed cameras, radar traps and increased speed enforcement help deter high speed offences, but data shows technology and smart braking systems on trucks are key to reducing single-vehicle rollover crashes.” 

NTI is working with the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) to use data from the NTARC report to develop new education initiatives to further improve road safety. 

NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto said data driven technology is the new frontier in making our roads safer. 

“Australia’s trucking industry is set for an information boom over the next decade, which will help improve safety and increase productivity,” Mr Petroccitto said. 

“The NHVR is committed to ongoing fatigue detection programs and support, together with delivering safety campaigns such as We Need Space, aimed at reminding light vehicle drivers about the importance of driving safely around truck drivers on the road.

“We want every driver to travel safely and arrive safely at their destination and ensure these NTARC report figures continue to improve.” 

Drivers are again being reminded to give heavy vehicles extra space as we head into the long weekend. 

“If you are near a heavy vehicle, remember it takes a truck longer to brake. Trucks also have larger blind spots and require more room to manoeuvre so avoid risky behaviour like cutting in front.” 

Mr Gibson said the NTARC data would be used to create awareness and educational material for operators, drivers and CEOs through NTI’s new Better Business Hub and Business of Safety programs. 

The full report can be found here.