Thursday, May 12, 2011

Safety on the Roads Is the Name of the Game

Road Freight Associations Hail Developments and Call for More
Shipping News Feature

WORLDWIDE – Every six seconds someone is killed or seriously injured on the world's roads. Nine in ten casualties occur in developing countries, many are children. In an effort to combat this terrible attrition the United Nations World Health Organisation (WHO) has launched the “Decade of Action for Road Safety”.

With more than 1.3 million people killed and around fifty million injured on the world’s road each year the goal of the 2011-2020 Decade of Action for Road Safety is to save five million lives and prevent fifty million injuries over the next ten years through the implementation of programs that will improve the world’s road safety.

The initiative has already been hailed by the American Trucking Association (ATA) as an important step which is inline with their own goals.

“The core of the U.N.’s program fits neatly with ATA’s own progressive safety agenda,” David Osiecki, ATA’s Senior Vice President of Policy and Regulatory Affairs.

“Focusing on behaviours we know cause crashes like aggressive or distracted driving, expanding the use of active safety technology and improving the design of trucks are just a part of our safety agenda that can help the U.N. and its partners achieve our shared goal of zero highway fatalities,” he added.

On a similar note the UK’s Freight Transport Association (FTA) is celebrating the announcement by the British Government that the UK’s Highway Code, which is required learning for Britain’s drivers, is to include a section concerning road awareness around trucks.

Malcolm Bingham, the FTA’s Head of Road Network Management Policy, said: “There is no doubt that a focus on how to behave around lorries will improve road safety immeasurably and save lives. All road users, whether on two wheels, four or sixteen, have a responsibility to each other to act safely.

“A section devoted to HGVs in the Highway Code will engender greater consideration between road users. We are delighted the Government has committed to these proposals which we have fought for since 2006 when the Code was revised.”

In addition to improving safety on the road the US has also just seen the re-introduction of “Jason’s Law”, legislation aimed at creating more rest stop parking for the country’s truckers. The first version of the bill was rejected last year.

The proposed legislation, which is named after Jason Rivenburg, a truck driver who was murdered on the 4th of March, 2009, during a robbery while he was parked in his truck at an abandoned gas station, has been reintroduced by Rep. Paul Tonko,

At a news conference Representative Tonko said: “Jason Rivenburg lost his life for a mere $7 while delivering milk to South Carolina. This cannot happen again ... Enough is enough.”

The bill would allocate $20 million annually for six years to assist states, local governments and private companies for a number of initiatives to improve access to truck parking across the country, ranging from construction of new parking capacity and improvements to existing commercial parking areas, to technology to track open parking spaces and improvements to existing non-commercial parking facilities to accommodate large trucks.

The ATA has been quick been to congratulate Tenko for reintroducing the bill.

“We applaud Rep. Tonko for again introducing this critical legislation, and hope Congress will act quickly to deliver for those who deliver America’s goods,” said Mary Phillips, ATA Senior Vice President of legislative affairs.

She added that: “America’s professional truck drivers need access to safe and legal parking in order to get the rest they need to safely transport the nation’s essential goods and comply with federal hours-of-service rules.

“Our drivers shouldn’t be forced into the ‘no-win’ situation of choosing between continuing to drive to find safe parking or parking on the shoulder or ramp or other location that puts themselves or other motorists at risk.”

She warned that: “If left unaddressed, the lack of truck parking will reach a crisis stage; over the next 9 years, we will add nearly 2 million more trucks to our roads to meet our nation’s freight demand.”