A new joint initiative by the federal and NSW governments and the trucking industry will see $30 million go towards providing more and better rest areas for long distance truck drivers.
The new facilities – to be funded as part of the $220 million Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program – will include upgraded rest areas, improved signage along NSW highways and the trial of smart technologies.
All of the projects will be aimed at making it safer for truck drivers to take a break or reconfigure their trailers while driving through NSW.
Federal infrastructure and transport minister Anthony Albanese said that with fewer tired truck drivers on the road, everyone would be safer.
“Established by this Labor government shortly after coming to office in late 2007, this program is the first ever significant federal response to the lack of safe, modern rest stops along the nation’s highways,” said Mr Albanese in a statement on March 1.
The dangers of truck driver fatigue on Australian roads were highlighted earlier this year, when experts giving evidence at a coroner’s inquest reported on what was described as a “prevalent but heavily under-reported” problem.
In that case, a Victorian truck driver was diagnosed with severe obstructive sleep apnoea after a fatal head-on collision in February 2012 in northern NSW.
Specialists called on by the coroner to talk about the issue said that independent studies showed up to half of all Australian heavy vehicle drivers suffered from some form of sleep apnoea.
The wider problem of driver fatigue is one that authorities continue to focus on.
A guide distributed to heavy vehicle operators in January 2013 by Transport for NSW listed a number of safety technologies that operators could invest in when upgrading or replacing their fleets.
One of these technologies was a driver fatigue monitoring system which could assess a driver’s level of fatigue while driving.
It will be hoped that improved access to quality rest areas will improve the safety of heavy vehicles on NSW roads and reduce the need for truck accident injury compensation as a result of collisions with these heavy road users.
Anyone injured as a result of a collision with a heavy vehicle on NSW roads should consult with a personal injury lawyer in Sydney to find out if they might be entitled to compensation for their medical costs, legal fees and more.