Michael Belzer spoke at a public inquiry into the long haul transport industry in Australia, undertaken by the New South Wales Motor Accidents Authority on Safety. He said drivers in both the U.S. and Australia feel pressure to get the load to its destination on time, or face losing their jobs. He also said in order to stay awake, Australian drivers often rely on drugs that are not currently tested for in that country.
"Drivers who take drugs yo-yo on uppers and downers to prevent fatigue, which is unsafe, but we in the U.S. have introduced drug testing -- on demand, random, for cause and post-accident testing -- that has reduced the amount of drug-taking," he said, according to Associated Press reports. "Drivers now have to pee in a cup on demand in the U.S. – which you don't have here -- and that has helped, but it runs against the grain and is seen as an intrusion of privacy."
The inquiry was also told that an analysis of deaths among Transport Workers Union members identified suicide as a major cause of death, coming in at 10 percent of its members.
A survey of 300 long distance truckers done by the TWU found that 78 percent had spent two nights or fewer a week with their families, and that two out of three drivers said their job was putting pressure on their personal lives. Pressures included long hours, poor pay, lack of family time, financial pressures and relationship breakdowns.
(For more, see "Aussie Truckers Reveal Corrupt Working Conditions.")