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Down Under Trucking: driver “incinerated” in head-on crash; deadly drunk-driving trucker; hostile takeover target warns shareholders

Easter 2019 has seen some truly appalling trucking scenes on Australian roads. An experienced police officer described the aftermath of a fiery, head-on, smash between two trucks as a “devastating and horrific scene.” Photo: Shutterstock.

Down Under Trucking: it has been a truly shocking Easter period on Australian roads with an appalling double-fatality in South Australia.

A trucker was “incinerated” in a head-on collision. The other trucker also died in the accident. An experienced police officer described the aftermath as a “devastating and horrific scene,” adding that, “Two families were devastated.” Drunk-driving truckers were in the news as two men, in two separate incidents, fronted court. One of the trucks, in a double-B configuration, allegedly careened all over a busy road, reversed back up a motorway. It came to a stop by jack-knifing into a gas-station. An irate member of the local public climbed up the side of the cab and seized the keys. The truck driver was detained by passers-by.

Meanwhile Australian sleep-scientists revealed critical insights into truck-driver related fatigue following a two-year study with over 150,000 reference points. Apparently, slow eyelid movements and prolonged eye closure are “reliable predictors of drowsiness and fatigue”. Really, who knew?

And, finally, corporate Australian trucking was active last week with new products, a new buyout and the continuing drama of a hostile takeover. “TAKE NO ACTION,” the target company’s board screamed at shareholders. They’re really quite serious about it.

Down Under Trucking. Read on below. Find out more.

Truck driver “incinerated” in head-on crash

Two double-B truck drivers died over the Easter public holidays in Australia after a head-on crash. One truck burst into flame and local police said the driver was incinerated. The other truck driver also died at the scene.

One trucker was a 31 year old man from Port Augusta and the other was a 35 year old man from Campbelltown.

Police were called at 01:00am to at a remote location on the Augusta Highway, which runs north from the state capital of Adelaide. The incident took place approximately 155 miles north of Adelaide.

Local police superintendent and spokesperson Robert Gray said it was a “devastating and horrific scene”.

“Two families were devastated when police knocked on their doors in the early hours of the morning to tell them that their loved ones wouldn’t be coming home this Easter,” superintendent Gray said.

The two rigs were in a double-B configuration. Other than providing basic details, local police were tight-lipped about the incident citing the fact that “major crash” officers were investigating the scene. Those officers will make a report to the coroner who will then make any findings. A coroner’s report could take up to two years to be published.

Local media pictures show a double-B rig in which the prime mover has been completely burnt down to the engine block while the first of its two curtain-sided trailers has been completely burned out – only the skeletal framework remains. The second semi-trailer trailer appears to be damaged but is not completely burnt out. The second of the two trailers has a “Cochranes” logo. Both rigs were so badly burned it’s not possible to tell if they were bonneted or cab-over prime movers.

At the time of the accident, a local monitoring station of the national weather agency, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, recorded dry conditions, a northerly wind with maximum gusts of 54 km/hour (33.5 miles per hour) and a temperature of 24.5 degrees Celsius (76.1 Fahrenheit).

Although this is truly appalling incident, the statistics show that, overall, Australian heavy freight trucking is getting safer. Read on below the banner for more details.

Australian road deaths are skewed toward the weekend. Just over 16 percent of all road deaths in Australia take place on a Friday according to calculations based on the 30-year data-set in the Australian Road Deaths Database. In the last eleven years there were 12,878 road deaths in Australia. That data includes fatalities from all road vehicles.

Last year in Australia there were 136 crashes that caused at least one fatality and also involved a heavy freight vehicle. There were 154 deaths from crashes that involved at least one heavy freight vehicle in 2018. The reason why there are two sets of data is that sometimes, as in the case above, there is one crash that involves a fatality but more than one person dies in that crash. This fatal crash/deaths from crashes data is sourced from the “Fatal Heavy Vehicle Crashes Australia” data-set, published by the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities.

In the last eleven years there have been 1,927 fatal heavy truck crashes that, together, caused 2,203 deaths. On average that’s 175 truck crashes a year involving a fatality and 200 deaths in truck accidents.

Cross-referencing the Road Deaths data of 12,878 deaths with the Fatal Heavy Vehicle Crashes data of 2,203 deaths indicates that about 17 percent of all road deaths in Australia over the last eleven years can be attributed to heavy freight Vehicles.

However, Australian heavy trucking does appear to be getting safer over time. Although the number of fatal crashes and deaths may vary from year to year, the long-term trend is for fewer fatal heavy truck crashes and fewer deaths from heavy truck crashes.

On average, over the eleven years in the data-set, there were about seven fewer fatal truck crashes a year and eight fewer heavy freight truck related deaths each year. The average percentage change in truck crashes over the same period is minus 3.3 percent; the average percentage change in deaths from fatal truck crashes is also minus 3.3 percent.

Drink driving-accused truckers front court

Two truck drivers have fronted court in respect of two completely separate drink-driving allegations.

According to local media reports, truck driver Ty George Martain, 22 of Findon, appeared at the Christies Beach Magistrates Court charged with causing death by dangerous driving. He is alleged to have been driving a truck, while being over the drink driving limit, that crashed head-on into a car. According to local media reports, Ms Nadine Varga, 50, was in the other vehicle. She was hospitalized and, two days later, she died.

Meanwhile, in a fortunately non-fatal case, truck driver Barry Kenneth Poirrier, 49, fronted Liverpool Local Court, Sydney. He is facing multiple charges on allegations that he was 14 times over the drink-driving limit. He is accused of swerving his high-productivity B-Double rig and truck across a motorway and reversing back down the motorway. He allegedly jackknifed the truck at a petrol station. Recordings from the petrol station show a member of the public climbing up to the side of the prime mover, opening the door of the rig, which the trucker repeatedly closes. Members of the public then carried out a citizen’s arrest. The case has been adjourned to next month when Mr Poirrier is expected to enter a plea.

Secrets of truck driver fatigue revealed

A two year scientific study that researched more than 300 heavy vehicle driver shifts and over 150,000 samples of retrospective data, has provided insight into the nature of truck driver fatigue. The study was carried out by the Australian National Transport Commission and the Cooperative Research Centre for Alertness, Safety and Productivity.

There were a number of key findings. The greatest levels of alertness under standard Australian driving hours can be achieved by starting shifts between 06:00am and 08:00am, the study found. The key risk factors for drowsiness include:

  • More than 15 hours of day driving when a driver starts a shift before 09:00am

  • More than 6-8 hours of night driving (when a driver starts a shift in the afternoon or evening)

  • After five consecutive shifts when driving again for 13 hours

  • Driving a shift that starts after midnight and before 06:00am

  • During the first couple of night shifts and during long night shifts

  • During a backward shift rotation (from an evening, back to afternoon, or an afternoon back to a morning start)

  • After long shift sequences of more than seven shifts.

  • During nose-to-tail shifts where a seven-hour break only enables five hours of sleep – a duration previously associated with a three-fold increased risk for motor vehicle accidents.

‘We found that slow eye and eyelid movements, longer blink duration and prolonged eye closure are reliable predictors of drowsiness and fatigue’, Associate Professor Howard said.

Peugeot launches new vans in Australia

Last mile delivery in Australia got a boost recently as Peugeot Citroen Australia announced three all-new commercial vans. These vehicles include the first vans to feature Autonomous Emergency Braking as standard. All the vans will also feature standard reverse camera, parking sonar, four airbags, and driver and passenger airbags. The vans will have a five year, 200,000 kilometer (124,274 miles) warranty. The first of the three to launch is the Peugeot Expert, which goes on sale early next month. It has a payload weight of 1,499kg (3305 U.S. pounds).

Linx Cargo Care Group buys out minor shareholder

Multi-service logistics provider Linx Cargo Care Group has bought out the remaining minority shareholding of Autocare from joint venture partner NYK Line. The deal is effective from May 1.

Linx has promised further investment in Autocare Services now that it has complete ownership.

“Acquiring NYK Line’s minority shareholding, allows LINX CCG to optimise our internal inter-business synergies and put everything we have behind Autocare Services’ future growth and success,” said LINX Cargo Care Group CEO, Anthony Jones.

AHG implores shareholders to “TAKE NO ACTION

Automotive Holdings Group (ASX: AHG) has urged its strongly urged its shareholders to “TAKE NO ACTION” in relation to a hostile takeover bid from Automotive retailer A.P. Eagers (ASX: APE).

AHG has warned – in no less than a bold, red, underlined and capitalized font – that there is no benefit to shareholders of accepting APE’s bid “at this time” and that shareholders may be disadvantaged. AHG adds that its shares are currently trading above the value implied by APE’s offer.

“Your shares are currently worth more on the market than under the offer,” AHG said in a statement that was in bold, in red, and wholly upper-case.

AHG added that it has commissioned professional services company KPMG to prepare an independent assessment of APE’s offer.

APE announced the bid for AHG on April 5.

Further details of the APE/AHG hostile takeover can be found in our earlier reporting.

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Jim Wilson, Australia Correspondent

Sydney-based journalist and photojournalist, Jim Wilson, is the Australia Correspondent for FreightWaves. Since beginning his journalism career in 2000, Jim has primarily worked as a business reporter, editor, and manager for maritime publications in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia. He has won several awards for logistics-related journalism and has had photography published in the global maritime press. Jim has also run publications focused on human resources management, workplace health and safety, venture capital, and law. He holds a degree in law and legal practice.

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