A Dubbo based B-Double driver will circle the globe in 2017 in order to take lessons from America, Canada and the United Kingdom to improve heavy vehicle safety thanks to the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust.

Rod Hannifey is one of 106 Australians to be awarded a 2016 Churchill Fellowship and says he’s determined to come back with ways to reduce the number of fatalities on the road.

Nearly 200 people were killed on Australian roads over the past year in 171 separate accidents involving trucks.

“Crashes involving heavy vehicles are far more likely to cause harm, and the aim of my Fellowship is to bring something back to Australia that will save lives on the road,” Hannifey said.

“I hope my Fellowship will inform ways to improve the education of drivers about sharing the road with trucks and improve rest area design, including informal rest areas that are increasingly used.

“We need to educate car drivers about how best to share the road with trucks, to not only save their lives but also to save the truckies from being involved in these crashes.

“We have certainly not got anywhere near the targeted reduction in the road toll, so we need to look further afield to see what else can be done.”

Hannifey said he wants to find ways to reduce the near misses and devastating accidents by investigating successful programs that have changed practice in the USA, UK and Canada.

“Canada was the birthplace of the B-double, which is now much improved here and the mainstay of the Australian transport industry, and the UK will provide a different view again,” he said.

“I believe truckers in the USA get more recognition for the job they do than we do here in Australia, and I want to see how the programs they have, such as ‘Knights of the Road’ and ‘Trucker Buddy’ can be done here, and what impact they  could have on road safety.

“Both those programs connect the broader community with truck drivers, and have helped improve the public perception of our profession”.

“Knights of the Road has built a culture of truck drivers assisting stranded cars, and Trucker Buddy connects school students and drivers as pen-pals.

CEO of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Adam Davey explained the purpose of the fellowship is to allow ordinary Australians to pursue extraordinary outcomes.

“Rod’s Fellowship will give him a great opportunity, to go overseas and gain knowledge that isn’t available in Australia, and it’s knowledge that can hopefully help save lives” Davey said.

“Fellows are given the chance to learn from other countries success, and translate those strategies which are already proven effective, to a local Australian context.

“Our 2016 Fellows will travel throughout the world to research a great range of topics – from road safety to agricultural, sustainable living to medical practice,” he added.