A union representing heavy vehicle safety inspectors warned that the increase in heavy vehicle crashes in NSW was directly related to the reduction in safety inspectors in the state.
The Public Service Association, warned the state’s Roads Minister Melinda Pavey that the decision by the government not to fill positions has had a significant impact on road safety, leading to a spike in fatal truck crashes in the state.
According to preliminary figures, in the past year there has been a 45 per cent increase in truck related deaths. This correlates with a 15 per cent decline in the total heavy vehicle safety inspector workforce.
The union sent a letter to the minister recently, where it’s assistant general secretary Troy Wright detailed their concerns. The letter reveals that there are 34 fewer safety inspectors than there were last year at the same time,
“The explosion in heavy vehicle accidents in NSW tragically corresponds with the NSW Government’s decision not to fill a significant number of heavy vehicle inspector positions,”
“The result is that truck companies are now very much aware that if a vehicle is not up to scratch it will probably go undetected until there is a major accident, which have been all too horrifically common of late.”
The concerns raised with the minister were then referred to the Roads and Maritime Services. RMS agreed that the number of inspectors in their employ had decreased but not by the number identified by the union. An RMS spokesman explained,
“At the beginning of last year Roads and Maritime Services employed 241 enforcement operations inspectors,”
“There are currently 231 enforcement operations inspectors following retirements and resignations which have occurred in the past 12 months, a less than 5 per cent reduction.”
The RMS spokesperson went on to say that the state had maintained “automatic monitoring and screening systems” to target the highest risk areas and vehicles on major high traffic roads.
However the union disputed the government’s figures, stating that many posts had remained vacant for at least a year. He also detailed his disapproval of the government’s actions,
“The government’s decision not to fill heavy vehicle safety inspectors positions from our highways is shockingly irresponsible, We warned the state government the loss of these roles would put lives at risk on our roads.”
He also stated that heavy vehicle safety stations in the state were often left without staff because of employee shortages. The union is standing by its figures that the workforce is short 15 per cent compared to last year.
According to data from the NSW Centre for Road Safety, the number of fatalities related to heavy vehicle crashes increased from 56 in 2016 to 81 in 2017.