Report Reveals the Trucking Industry’s Dangerous Driving Culture

'Damning indictment': TWU boss Tony Sheldon has demanded action from the RSRT to hold large players in the transport supply chain accountable. Image source:

‘Damning indictment’: TWU boss Tony Sheldon has demanded action from the RSRT to hold large players in the transport supply chain accountable. Image source:

A new report from Safe Work Australia made some disturbing revelations which Transport Workers Union boss, with Tony Sheldon demanding action. According to the report, risk- taking is common in trucking, as is dangerous driving which is a culture entrenched in the industry.

Mr Sheldon has urged the RSRT to act now in holding large operators in the transport supply chain accountable.

The report from Safe Work, reveals that while employers and employees are aware of the dangerous driving behaviour taking place, they are willing to accept it rather than act due to economic pressures.

The report states that 31 per cent of employers in the industry think workers ignore safety in the name of productivity and 22 per cent are aware that workers break the rules due to pressure from management.

Perhaps even more alarming is the revelation that almost half of the employees are of the belief that risks are unavoidable and 40 per cent of employers say their workplace would not suit workers who are overly concerned about injury.

The report also showed that 20 per cent of employers break safety rules to complete work on time and many of them consider minor incidents as an acceptable part of the job. Some employers (10 per cent) even thought that dangerous behaviour was acceptable, as long as they didn’t result in accidents, whereas in other industries only 2 per cent of employers were of this opinion.

Risk-taking is the biggest cause of injuries, according to transport employers. According to the report most of the injuries in the industry were made up of sprains, strains and chronic joint or muscle conditions.

The report also revealed,  

“Transport industry employers are more accepting of risk taking, rule breaking and minor incidents than employers in other industries,”

“Findings suggest that the apparent acceptance of unsafe work practices in the industry may be due to the economic pressures on the industry and the uncontrolled nature of the physical environment in which work is carried out, especially for van and light truck drivers.”


Despite the high injury rate in the transport industry, Safe Work Australia noted that many employers aren’t acting. Even though they are aware of the consequences, employers aren’t doing anything about the safety issues due to economic benefits. Safe Work Australia went on to state in the report,

Many employers in the transport industry appear to acknowledge that unsafe work practices and risk taking are leading to the high levels of injuries and fatalities in the industry,”

“The higher acceptance of risk taking and rule breaking in the transport industry compared to other industries is concerning. These may be key factors driving the high levels of injuries and fatalities.”


Most workers aren’t breaking the rules because of financial rewards, the report found but many are doing so because of workplace conditions and pressure from employers. Work design has been recognised as a major problem.

Safe Work Australia highlighted the importance of regulators working with the members of the industry directly to address the issues rather than apply a uniform approach to all businesses. They recognise that a one-size fits all approach would be ineffective,

“The differences in the way owner-drivers operate compared with employing businesses suggest tailored approaches are the way to go,” the report stated.


Calls for Action from the TWU

The Transport Workers Union (TWU) is urging the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal to act in light of the report’s findings and hold all those major parties responsible for this risk taking and dangerous behaviour.

Tony Sheldon cautioned,

“Rules are being broken because of pressure from billion-dollar companies at the top,” he says.


He also stated that drivers were forced to skip breaks and break fatigue driving laws as well as drive overloaded vehicles for fear of losing their jobs. He highlighted that in order to improve safety in the industry, the source of the problem, which he believes are the major billion dollar businesses, is addressed. He also explained:

“For too long truck drivers and transport operators have carried the can for what is going wrong in our industry,”

“Trucking is Australia’s deadliest profession and until the very source of this problem is addressed, the carnage will continue.”

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