The alarming shortage of truck drivers in Australia is becoming an issue that concerns not only the heavy transport industry today, but one that will affect Australia’s ability to handle the movement of freight over the next 20 years.
The fact that Australia is driving awareness in conjunction with international bodies displays a clear intention to improve safety and promote an industry that is the cornerstone of Australia’s freight movement.
Transport insurance specialist Grant Stillman from Gallagher, acknowledges “the ability for insurers to allow young drivers to drive heavy vehicles has always been contentious” He continues to say that “some insurers are more lenient than others, however by and large young drivers face high excess penalties and other driving restrictions due to inexperience. This situation provides a great opportunity for an insurer to support young drivers”.
Our road transport industry is so concerned about driver shortage that this year they are considering a drastic initiative to visit primary schools in order to entice young children to consider a career in transport.
A new safety campaign, ‘Stop, Look, Wave’ launched in May 2016 in Melbourne and aimed at a primary school audience. It is supported by the Volvo Group and seeks to promote safety awareness in our children’s immediate environments, providing a range of training aids available via the Volvo Group website. This ground breaking program was launched simultaneously with the International Road Transport Union (www.IRU.org).
Experts are saying that the attractiveness and image of the industry are some of the issues facing transport today. Attracting young drivers to an industry that has traditionally suffered from image problems over a long period of time is difficult to break down. Therefore, ongoing awareness and education are paramount in order to find answers to this ongoing challenge.
Another disruption force within the transport industry is the emergence of driverless trucks. Earlier this year a convey of self-driving trucks drove across Europe, proving that this technology is not as far away as we thought. Not only are the cost savings alone quite significant, considering the highest cost in road freight is labour representing up to 75 percent of the cost, but the safety benefits will also contribute considerable advantages to this method of transport. The next big question is what are the implications of this new technology for one of the biggest financial services in the world, insurance?
According to statistics provided by leading transport insurer National Transport Insurance, the average age of heavy vehicle drivers is 46 years old. Industry numbers also show that one in five drivers are under the age of 30 years of age. These startling statistics clearly demonstrate that our transport industry is not an appealing occupation for our youth despite a shortage of jobs in general society.
The fallacy that trucks are driven with big stick shifts by burly men in singlets could not be further from the truth. Rather, today’s vehicles are fitted with technological advancements including satellite navigation, emergency braking and lane changing assistance. In addition, drivers are now scrutinised more than ever in terms of recruitment requirements, monitored daily routes, work health and safety, and general conditions are largely more professional than years gone by.
Gallagher, with an extensive national broking network in metropolitan and regional Australian locations, provides more than insurance. We provide broking solutions to a wide range of clients from small to medium enterprises through to large multi-national corporations, as well as affinity partners and associations.