Heavy vehicle crash report

New report shows heavy vehicle crash fatalities are down, but slightly up for buses

The Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) has released its annual report on road fatalities involving heavy vehicles.

The latest report shows road fatalities are down overall, while fatalities involving buses are up by a very small margin.

According to the report, 21 people were killed in crashes involving buses in 2015, as opposed to 20 in 2014 and 12 in 2013.

South Australia had the best year with no bus-related fatalities at all, whereas New South Wales and Victoria had the worst, with five and six deaths respectively.

All other states and territories had only one or two deaths.

Over the last decade, national bus-related deaths have averaged approximately 21 a year, brought on by a bad streak between 2007 and 2011.

Between these years, deaths per year averaged around 26, with 2009 delivering a tragic number of deaths at 31.

Despite the recent short term rise in bus-related deaths, the overall trend in the last decade has been downward.

Particularly promising is the comparison between the last decade and the period between 1989 and 2005.

Data from BITRE shows the average annual bus-related toll during that period was around 38, with 1989 being the worst individual year by far with 104 fatalities.

Since 1989 – the year of both the Kempsey and Grafton bus crashes which each killed dozens – fatalities have continued to decline dramatically.

A Bus Industry Confederation (BIC) fact sheet attributes the lowering bus fatalities to the implementation of ADR 68/00, which made seat belts on coaches mandatory, and the lowering of the average age of bus fleets.

BIC also lists improved driver training and general awareness programs as greatly contributing to bus safety in the last couple of decades.

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