The trucking industry is calling for greater driver education after 2017 saw an alarming rise in the number of heavy-truck related crashes on NSW roads.
Last year, 81 people were killed in truck-related accidents, and 61 of those incidents were on country roads.
Manager of Hanlon Enterprises Josh Hanlon coordinates a fleet of trucks from Junee that haul large grain deliveries around the state.
Mr Hanlon said many accidents involving trucks come down to a lack of awareness about how trucks operate on the part of other drivers.
“One of the big things is that people think trucks are always slow, so they try to get in front of them at any cost,” Mr Hanlon said.
“As part of trying to get past the truck, they’ll be putting themselves in blind spots at really bad times like just before a traffic light, and a 65 tonne truck can’t pull up as quickly as they can.”
While Mr Hanlon’s drivers are not bound by the tough deadlines that often lead to driver fatigue, he said employers should encourage flexibility in their drivers’ delivery times.
“We're very lucky in that we're carting grain, not food, so the work we do doesn't have that strict deadline,” he said.
“Our message to our drivers is that it's a booking time, not a deadline, and booking times can always change.”
Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey traveled 200km to Junee on Tuesday in a large truck to spread the word on truck safety with Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke.
Ms Pavey called on leaders in the trucking industry to be more accommodating to their drivers’ needs.
“There's a need for more rest stops so drivers can have a rest and for more flexibility in the rosters so drivers can listen to their body a bit more,” Ms Pavey said.
Ms Cooke said car drivers had an important part to play in bringing the road toll down and needed to be more aware of how to operate safely around large trucks.
“Drivers need to ensure trucks are given space as they can’t stop as quickly as other vehicles – always have a three second gap between you and the vehicle in front,” Ms Cooke said.
“For example, an unloaded B-double travelling at 60 kilometres an hour will take around 67 metres to come to a halt – imagine how long it would take for them to stop if they were travelling at 100 kilometres an hour on the highway.”