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Safety culture and speeding in the Australian heavy vehicle industry

Edwards, J, Davey, J, Armstrong, K (Peer reviewed)

Heavy Vehicles

ARSC conference 2015

Inappropriate speed and speeding are among the highest causes of crashes in the heavy vehicle industry. Truck drivers are subjected to a broad range of influences on their behaviour including industrial pressures, company monitoring and police enforcement. Further, drivers have a high level of autonomy over their own behaviour. As such it is important to understand how these external influences interact with commonly shared beliefs, attitudes and values of heavy vehicle drivers to influence their behaviour. The present study uses a re-conceptualisation of safety culture to explore the behaviours of driving at an inappropriate speed and speeding in the heavy vehicle industry. A series of case studies, consisting of interviews and ride-along observations, were conducted with three transport organisations to explore the effect of culture on safety in the heavy vehicle industry. Results relevant to inappropriate speed are reported and discussed. It was found that organisational management through monitoring, enforcement and payment, police enforcement, customer standards and vehicle design factors could all reduce the likelihood of driving at inappropriate speeds under some circumstances. However, due to weaknesses in the ability to accurately monitor appropriate speed, this behaviour was primarily influenced by cultural beliefs, attitudes and values. Truck drivers had a tendency to view speeding as relatively safe, had a desire to speed to save time and increase personal income, and thus often attempted to speed without detection. When drivers saw speeding as dangerous, however, they were more likely to drive safely. Implications for intervention are discussed