Prime Mover Magazine

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Peter Anderson

Protecting our people - transport’s greatest asset

April 2020

There is no doubt that road congestion frustrates all road users, but the heavy vehicle driver endures more than just issues around consistently high traffic volumes and the pressure this puts on them to meet deadlines and exceed customer expectations.

The pressures of the heavy vehicle driver on today’s roads is enormous.

Time schedules, low levels of remuneration and a payment system based upon volume and not the degree of effort, knowledge and skill, is common and does not reflect the effort and competency the individual must display on a consistent basis to be a professional driver.

Heavy vehicle drivers contend with issues of rejection, personal abuse and denigration of the value that they provide in their service to the broader community. As an industry, we need to do more to discourage this behaviour and protect our greatest assets – our people.

Heavy vehicle drivers suffer disadvantage and rejection on an hourly and daily basis through negative interactions from other road users.

Constantly maligned for being slow and cumbersome, these drivers work under extreme pressure to maintain the safety of their vehicle and other road users. However, the heavy vehicle driver can feel isolated and excluded from having an equal voice, understanding and acceptance as an equal member of the broader community.

The physical dynamics between a large heavy vehicle and a small passenger one are vastly different and their nimbleness on the road, completely poles apart.

The heavy vehicle driver is aware of these factors all of the time and is constantly working to ensure that they are fluid, efficient and safe on our roads.

Representing some 20 per cent of road users the heavy vehicle industry is the greater user of the road networks based upon the repetitive nature of its work.

Route work and scheduled deliveries are normal requirements and travelling over the same road is commonplace.

Yet the drivers are still openly abused on the road and intimidated by drivers that insist that there is no place for heavy vehicles on our roads.

There is growing recognition this attitude has on the mental wellbeing of heavy vehicle drivers with these issues sadly growing at an accelerated rate.

Additionally, exclusion in the planning of land development, infrastructure development and road management continue to plague and retard the true integration of truck drivers into our community.

Placing bike lanes on highways and separating large heavy vehicles by nothing more than a white line, does not give the heavy vehicle driver confidence and reassurance when faced with adverse conditions and pressure points in the road system.

The discrimination continues whenever a council allocates a curfew on public roads. By declaring that all heavy vehicles have a negative impact on the community in this way the heavy vehicle driver is automatically lambasted and held in disregard by all members of the broader community.

The road transport industry is an equal member of the community. It has a right to equal consideration, experience, opportunities and respect from the broader community that it serves.

The discrimination by road managers, councils and other transport groups is rampant and detrimental to the health and wellbeing of all heavy vehicle drivers. These are normal and good people with families trying to make a living professionally.

The Victorian Transport Association represents these drivers and the operators that employ them, and is working to drive awareness, acceptance and improvement of the heavy vehicle industry and the value to the standard of living that it provides to all Victorians.

Heavy vehicle licencing review, driver recognition programs, environmental integration with the community, the building of minimum standard of operations, education and upskilling, mental health programs and the consistent advocacy to the politicians and decision makers that there needs to be a stronger recognition of the issues confronting the heavy vehicle industry.

The heavy vehicle industry demands and is deserving of equality and to be treated fairly by all stakeholders.

These are the principals the VTA consistently and proudly advocates for in our interactions for the betterment of conditions for the men and women of our industry.

Peter Anderson

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