Wednesday, April 10, 2013

20130410 B-doubles Are Dangerous and Should Be Banned.

B-doubles Are Dangerous and Should Be Banned.

According to the Australian Department of Infrastructure and Transport, there have been, on average, 35 deaths per year in Queensland involving heavy vehicles. 35 people are killed every year by trucks. When there is as little as one death involving our soldiers, police or teachers there is a public outcry. The Easter holidays saw another fatal accident where two more innocent people were killed by a B-double truck. According the news report, the driver claimed he made some kind of conscious decision on where to crash. This is obviously nonsense. The claim raises some questions about the job (it is not a profession) of driving a truck. Clearly, it is improbable that a skilled and experienced driver can decide where to crash an out-of-control truck - if the truck was under any control, then there would be no accident. The driver clearly failed to judge the situation correctly. The driver is either incompetent, sadly mistaken, a liar or a murderer.

The Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads currently have a campaign aimed to reduce the number of needless bloody deaths on Queensland roads; Distracted Driving. Such is the problem of being distracted while driving that the Queensland TMR has managed to create a new genre of its own among the top four reasons that trucks kill people. As at the time writing, Queensland heavy vehicles are the only Australian state to have killed a baby.

In a recent conversation with a B-double driver, I was told that truck drivers often refer to the police as pigs and that the CB radio is alive with chatter about the perceived persecution of truck drivers. This same B-double driver understands why all Australian Federal Police are referred to in this manner and strenuously defended his right to do so. In what lower levels of Bloom's Taxonomy do these people live?

In a job that is directly involved in the accidental deaths of 35 people every year, B-double drivers are either criminally incompetent or B-double drivers are not adequately trained to safely operate the machine; or, the standard needed to attain an HC licence is dangerously low. Already this year there are 7 graves sadly occupied by people who are no longer in a fit state to make their opinions heard.

The Queensland TMR issued a guideline specifically for heavy vehicle drivers, in which it provides details of the Distracted Driving campaign. The level of language is consistent with the level used to instruct children of 12-years of age.  It explains the risks in three ways: manual, visual and cognitive. It clearly states that simple acts such as changing the radio are significant risk to road safety. Any driver who does not follow these simple guidelines is either incompetent in applying simple safety rules, or needs more training.

The Heavy Vehicle Driver Fact Sheet number 4 clearly states:

  • A manual distraction is when you take your hands off the wheel..."
  • A visual distraction is anything that takes your eyes off the road.."  and
  • A cognitive distraction is anything that takes your mind off the driving task."

Using a mobile phone while driving is mentioned specifically and repeatedly. Texting while driving is deemed
so dangerous that it carries a penalty of 3 demerit points and fine of  $330 even when stopped at traffic lights. Compare the combined elements of manual, visual and cognitive distractions present while texting to the equally distracting task of taking 'selfies' while driving. The Australian landscape is wonderful, beautiful and inspiring, but for safety's sake, history has proven there is a significant risk of killing yet another innocent person while a fully-laden truck hurtles along at 100 kilometres an hour and uses 30 metres-a-second of life-saving stopping distance.

When it comes to safety, a B-double is not even a remotely safe way of transporting 30,000 litres of petrol.
Petrol is dangerous enough when it is stationary, but why in the name of Google would any sane person think it is safe to put a poisonous, flammable, heavy, carcinogenic liquid in motion through public streets knowing the probability of a fatal accident and the 'acceptable' standard of training has already resulted in the deaths of 7 people this year (2013).