Page 1283 - Week 04 - Thursday, 5 May 2022

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Practitioners asking them what they might be able to do to increase their members’ awareness of driver health issues. All of these organisations have responded positively and both of the royal colleges have undertaken to develop additional education content for their members on medical assessments of drivers. Again, I thank these organisations for partnering with us and implementing change for the better.

To drive national reforms in this area, I have been advocating to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development in his role as Chair of the Infrastructure and Transport Ministers’ Meetings. At the February meeting of ministers I asked my counterparts for nationwide change for heavy vehicle driver screening. I am pleased to say that, as a result, the National Transport Commission has been tasked with considering the role of screening checks for illnesses we see affecting heavy vehicle drivers: sleep disorders, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The Australian Trucking Association has identified that a screening test for train drivers is a model that could apply to heavy vehicle drivers. I put this forward as a model that should be considered by the NTC, and I look forward to seeing the outcomes of their work.

Safe vehicles and safe vehicle technology are also an important part of improving safety on our roads, particularly for heavy vehicles. The government has been examining the technologies that now exist that can make a big difference in safety. We want these technologies on our roads and protecting people.

Two of these technologies that the Chief Coroner focused on in her findings are autonomous emergency braking, or AEB, and fatigue and distraction detection technology, known as FDDT. I was pleased to see that the federal government, since the inquest, has recently announced that AEB will be mandated for new heavy vehicles, starting in 2023. This sets a minimum standard, and our government continues to be interested in what else is possible.

The ACT government is looking at avenues to encourage lifesaving technologies in heavy vehicles in the ACT. Procurement ACT is currently working to include fitment of AEB and FDDT in heavy vehicle as an element of the ACT government’s procurement decisions. The initial focus will be on heavy vehicles purchased or leased by the ACT government. FDDT represents a new opportunity. Although this technology is less mature than AEB, it holds enormous potential. There are trials of this technology happening in Australia and abroad, with promising results, and we cannot afford to miss out on this potential technology and the impact that it will have to save lives.

This government, in addition to considering AEB and FDDT in procurement decisions, has also begun investigating options to further incentivise the fitting of FDDT in heavy vehicles. There are bodies, such as the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, that have significant expertise with this technology and its use and are well placed to work with heavy vehicle operators to get the most benefit out of it. These technologies have the power to benefit all road users, including heavy vehicle drivers themselves.

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