“On highways in Australia, the technology would likely work quite well.

“That technology is readily available now, it’s an option that truck operators can choose to spec onto their vehicle.”

Mr Austin was among members of the heavy vehicle and freight transport industry to speak at a Queensland parliamentary inquiry into transport technology.

The inquiry is examining trends in fuel-type usage in person transport, freight transport and public transport, including electric vehicles; driverless cars; and how technology is affecting employment in the food delivery area.

Trucks coming onto the Australian market had the latest technology installed, including lane departure warning, lane keep assist, stability control and roll stability, Mr Austin said.

The measure has also been developed for light vehicles, including for Honda and Toyota.

Mr Austin said technology could only help fix specific causes of an accident, which would not always be caused by cars drifting out of lanes.

But National Road Transport Association adviser Richard Calver said technology played a role in achieving a target of zero road fatalities.

“Advanced safety features, like autonomous emergency braking and electronic stability control … must become commonplace in heavy vehicles,” he said.

“Newer safer technologies, moving ultimately to autonomous vehicles, will have a revolutionary effect on the transport task.”

Mr Calver said heavy vehicles were not to blame for most crashes with cars.

“In 93 per cent of occasions … where there’s a fatality involving a heavy vehicle, it’s the fault of the light [vehicle] driver,” he said.

“That statistic hasn’t been tested more broadly but a similar statistic a few years ago said 80 per cent.”

Mr Calver said one of the most significant challenges facing the road freight transport sector was a critical shortage of truck drivers.

“The average age of heavy vehicle drivers is around 53 years, with a mere 15 per cent of truck drivers under the age of 30,” he said.

“With the road freight task expected to double by 2030 and the simultaneous loss of retiring drivers from the workforce, this problem will be compounded unless urgent action is taken by industry and government.

“As well, women make up just 3 per cent of the truck driving workforce, representing one of the greatest gender imbalances, unfortunately, of any occupation.”

Mr Calver said research by the Australasian New Car Assessment Program showed cars built in 2001 or earlier made up one in five cars on the road.

“Yet they account for more than one-third of the vehicles involved in fatalities,” he said.

In contrast, vehicles built between 2012 and 2017 account for 31 per cent of cars on the road but are involved in just 12 per cent of fatalities.

Felicity Caldwell is state political reporter at the Brisbane Times

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