Steven Corcoran with his rig. All images via Steven Corcoran
You may not know this, but driving a truck is Australia's most dangerous job. According to this Australian insurance comparison site, 65 transport workers died in 2014. That's nearly a third of all industrial fatalities that year.
Driving any sort of vehicle is hazardous, and the odds against you grow the more you do it. In fact, if every driver in Australia set off on a 60 million mile road trip, just under half would survive according to numbers published by the Australian Department of Infrastructure and Transport. And sure, 60 million miles is a long way, but truck drivers are definitely the group playing those odds the hardest. That's why a Queensland truckie named Steven Corcoran wants $100 tax free, for every working truck driver, every day.
To highlight the issue, and because he wanted one, Corcoran had a truck-themed coffin built for himself
"I've had ten of my mates killed driving trucks in the last 16 years," Corcoran explains over the phone. "But the final straw came in early 2012. I was having breakfast with a mate. We headed off in the same direction, him first, and he was killed in front of me." Corcoran describes how after a head-on, he put a fire out in the cab and then tried to drag his friend's body out "even though there was only half of him left." After that, and after recovering from the resulting PTSD, Corcoran focused on getting truck drivers to sign a petition asking the federal government to approve subsidies for the risks involved.
On Friday, Corcoran will tell the Brisbane Fair Work Commission that $100 per day will not just compensate incurred risk, but will also help to pay higher insurance premiums charged by insurance companies. (It's worth noting that Life Insurance Finder investigates which jobs are dangerous because risk affects their bottom line). Corcoran also argues that $100 is less than what overseas military personal receive (currently $150 per day in Iraq and Afghanistan) despite the fatality rate in both regions being lower than it is for truck drivers.
Corcoran, with another rig
As for where this danger money will come from, Corcoran claims that the consumer will pay, as retailers will be passed on the cost. "And over an average truck load of 24,000 kilograms, $100 is not even a cent extra per kilo," he says. Not surprisingly, Toll, Linfox, Coles, and the Australian National Retail Association have all called for the application to be rejected.
Corcoran believes the opposition is to be expected. According to him, truck drivers are the lowest priority in a long ladder of cost cuts, essentially driven by retailers. As he explains, drivers don't even get paid for the hours it takes contractors to load and unload their trucks. "So we're only paid for the hours on the road, and those margins are so low," he says. "And then there's a huge risk of dying. That to me just isn't fair."
The Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal will be considering the proposal later in the year. You can email your submission to firstname.lastname@example.org or check out the other submissions here.
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