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Twenty years of putting safety first

29 April 2011

The Australian trucking industry is dramatically safer than it was twenty years ago, with safer trucks, safer drivers, safer roads and safer companies.

At the 2011 Australian Trucking Convention, the Australian Trucking Association will launch its 20th anniversary history, Putting Safety First, which sets out how the founders of the ATA united the industry and got results on safety.
The book was developed by a history committee led by Peter Rocke, the first chair of the Road Transport Industry Forum, which was ultimately renamed the ATA.

“Twenty years ago, the industry was very fragmented. The Grafton truck and bus crash in 1989 focused our attention very strongly. We realised that if we didn’t take a united approach to safety we could be regulated out of business,” Mr Rocke said.

“Today, the national and state governments recognise the ATA as a truly national and representative voice of the road transport industry.

“We put the book together because we felt that if we didn’t record the beginnings and the reasons for starting the ATA, they would be lost in time and forgotten,” he said.

The book tells the story of the ATA’s key achievements, including:

• its two mobile safety exhibitions: the Safety Education Trailer, now on display at the National Road Transport Hall of Fame in Alice Springs, and the Road Ahead, launched in 2008. These exhibitions have told tens of thousands of people about the industry and how to share the road safely with trucks.

• the TruckSafe safety accreditation program. Businesses in the TruckSafe system are twice as safe as non-accredited businesses.

• the 100 km/h per hour speed limiters installed in every truck and the chain of responsibility laws. Under chain of responsibility, trucking businesses and even the industry’s customers can be held to account if their actions, inactions or demands lead to safety violations on the road.

• a dramatic increase in road funding, more truck rest areas and the fuel tax credits system.

The members of the history committee were Mike Almond, Ron Bunker, Ron Finemore, Ross Fraser, Denis Robertson, Noelene Watson and Peter Rocke.