TRUCK CRASH INCREASE: Constable Bradley Bennett informs Warwick Christian College students Paris Meharg, Zyetta Shephard-Picton and Henry Sommerlad of the risks involved in truck crashes.
TRUCK CRASH INCREASE: Constable Bradley Bennett informs Warwick Christian College students Paris Meharg, Zyetta Shephard-Picton and Henry Sommerlad of the risks involved in truck crashes. Tessa Flemming

The growing hazard devastating truckies, ending careers

TRUCK drivers are facing another potentially devastating hazard on the road, with desperate people using the large vehicles as a suicide tool.

As Warwick's Road Safety Week commences, QUBE projects and compliance advisor David Milburn said one of the biggest safety issues facing truck drivers at the moment was the concerning increase in crashes caused by drivers purposely colliding with trucks.

He is urging people to seek help before contemplating ending their lives in such a way, saying the lasting effect on truck drivers was devastating and ended careers.

"I've seen cases where oncoming traffic makes the decision to do away with themselves and I've had to put drivers back together afterwards," Mr Milburn said.

"Those vehicles and people stay with them (truck drivers) for the rest of their lives."

Mr Milburn, who had been with the trucking company for 20 years, said over the past five years the number of these suicide-by-truck collisions had grown, leaving drivers and himself to deal with the devastating aftermath.

While the nature of traffic crashes often made it hard for police to determine which cases were suicides, Senior Sergeant Gerard Brady said he had seen crashes where suicide was the clear motive of the crash.

"I wouldn't see it as a trend, but in my career, there's been incidents where it has occurred," Sgt Brady said.

Mr Milburn said crashes on the job could make drivers walk out on the career completely, but that there was very little training that trucking companies could offer drivers to prepare for those situations.

"In my time, I've had two truck drivers who had to leave the industry because of suicides, who had no issues prior and were good employees who just said, 'nah I can't do this any more'," he said.

"Unfortunately, everything in that space is somewhat reactive. It can happen to anyone.

"Sadly, we have events where a person may have had enough and how do you prevent that? Until you get a crystal ball you can't."

Frasers Livestock Transport director Ross Fraser said while his company had never been subject to a suicide-motivated crash, he was aware how important it was to make sure truck drivers had sufficient support after crashes, even if there was no way to pre-empt a scenario.

"If people decide to run into the truck, and fortunately we haven't had it happen, it's very traumatic for drivers who shouldn't have to go through the situation," Mr Fraser said.

"Looking after driver welfare is our main aim there.

"If and when it does happen, their welfare afterwards is more important than any preparation."

Mr Milburn hoped education would open up the conversation and make motorists aware of the risks truck drivers faced every day they showed up for work.

"Once upon a time, the trucking industry wasn't looked at as a workplace, but now there is a greater acceptance that this a workspace too and drivers deserve to go to work safely," he said. "Truck drivers are just human beings, making a living out on the road, with families to come home to."

Other causes of crashes highlighted at Warwick's Road Safety Week included fatigue and an increased inattention caused by mobile devices.

For those in need of support phone Lifeline on 13 11 14.