Last year, 198 people died from 174 fatal crashes involving articulated or heavy rigid trucks on Australian roads.
These statistics are compiled quarterly, so as yet there’s no official overview of the number of deaths to date this year.
But those numbers will count among them the late Adrian ‘Ado’ Ryan, 32 and a professional truck driver from Goulburn.
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Mr Ryan died in Friday’s double fatal on Picton Road at Wilton, thrown from his cabin. A second driver, Michael ‘Mick’ Gorman, 39, of Sydney, also died.
Both men were fathers of young children.
Heavy truck crash data analysis from Transport for NSW in 2012 noted that – compared with heavy truck crashes in metropolitan areas – speed, fatigue, wet roads, curves, darkness and late night to early mornings were over-represented in heavy truck crashes in country NSW.
An investigation by authorities will determine which, if any, of these were a factor in the Wilton crash.
Roads and Maritime Service statistics from 2011 showed heavy trucks in NSW: comprised 2.2 per cent of all registered motor vehicles; accounted for 7 per cent of motor vehicle travel in the state; but tallied at 17 per cent of all fatalities on our roads.
Their very bearing means that when they do crash, they crash harder than most. Their vehicle mass compounds crash forces and therefore the crash severity.
This is something every road user should think about the next time they cut in front of a truck.
More than $30 billion in the Australian economy per annum comes from road freight transport services, an industry that employs 191,000 people.
But is it worth a death resulting from a heavy truck crash on our roads almost every other day? It’s a high price to pay for their essential work.
That’s the curious paradox of the trucker’s lot: with their big rigs and blasting air horns, they’re impossible to miss on our highways; but their contribution to keeping our community’s wheels turning, delivering all kinds of goods at all kinds of hours, is little seen.
So look at the smiling face of Adrian ‘Ado’ Ryan on our front page today, a man in his prime as well as in his beloved prime mover.
Don’t let his death be just a statistic, but a reminder as to why and how we can all do more – whether we be drivers or roads policy deciders – to put a brake on highway deaths.