At-risk areas for truck accidents

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Trucks can cause significant damage to our roads, due to their larger size and heavier weight than standard vehiclesi. We take a look at the areas prone to truck accidents.

Heavy vehicles are an important part of our national transport fleeti. Delivering goods far and wide across the country, they are a major component of the integrated transport and logistics system that keeps Australia going. However they are large vehicles and carry significant loads, and consequently take longer to stop than other lighter vehiclesii. This means that when something goes wrong, the consequences can be seriousiii.

Poor road conditions in rural areas can contribute to heavy vehicle accidents.

Tunnels and underpasses

Tunnels can be at-risk areas for heavy vehicles. The height of the tunnel and low hanging infrastructure such as the tunnel's pipes can cause collisionsiii, iv. In Sydney, truck drivers ignoring warning signs and driving into low clearance tunnels have caused many delays for motoristsiii. The Sydney Harbour Tunnel is now using innovative technology to help combat this problem. If a heavy vehicle approaching the Harbour Tunnel ignores warnings to stop and continues on, a stop sign is projected onto a curtain of falling water at the entrance to the tunneliii. This virtual stop sign is used only as a last resortiii.

Trucks present further problems when they crash in tunnels which may cause their fuel tank to leak. The 2007 Burnley Tunnel disaster in Melbourne was caused by a collision involving four trucks and three cars. Diesel leaking from a ruptured fuel tank of one of the trucks caused a tunnel fire that resulted in three fatalities and significant damagev.

Highways and motorways

Research conducted by the New South Wales government found that the majority of both fatal and non-fatal heavy truck crashes in the state occurred on highways and motorwaysvi. The Pacific and Hume Highways have the highest rates of heavy vehicle crashes, with 535 and 396 total crashes respectively from 2008 to 2010, including 34 and 14 fatal crashes respectivelyvi. In addition to causing damage to people and roads, highway truck crashes can cause lengthy delays for other road users.

Varying road surfaces, wildlife, winding and narrow roads, and fatigue are all problems associated with driving on rural roads.

Country roads

Country roads present their own unique set of problems for Australian truck drivers. Varying road surfaces, wildlife, winding and narrow roads, and fatigue are all problems associated with driving on rural roadsvi. Other factors that contribute to a significant number of heavy truck crashes on country roads include wet weather, driving at night and speedingvi.

Trucks are important to the transportation of goods in Australia and sharing the road with them is an important aspect of driving. Consideration for the characteristics of heavy vehicles by car drivers can go a long way to help reducing dangerous situations. Not cutting in front of heavy vehicles or making it difficult for them to turn on intersections makes the road a better place for all drivers.

i Willis, K and Gangell, S 2012, Profiling heavy vehicle speeding, Australian Institute of Criminology, viewed 30 August 2013, series/tandi/441-460/tandi446.html

ii Department of Transport Western Australia, Major Road Rules and Additional Safety Advice, viewed 26 July 2013,

iii Edwards, A 2013, 'That will stop them in their tracks! Virtual barrier made from curtain of water halts lorries from driving through too small tunnels', The Daily Mail, viewed 26 July 2013,

iv Vic Roads 2009, General Vehicle Mass and Dimension Limits, viewed 26 July 2013,

v MacNamara, L 2007, 'Three dead after blaze in Burnley Tunnel', The Australian, viewed 26 July 2013,

vi CHOICE, CHOICE uncovers the hidden traps in the car rental industry, viewed 19 July 2013,

vii Dikranian, G 2012, NSW Government, Heavy Truck Crash Data Analysis, viewed 26 July 2013,