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Australia Wants to Ban Long-Haul Transport of Dangerous Goods By Truck – Should We Follow Suit?

In Australia, the Rail, Tram and Bus Union has initiated a campaign that may see fewer large trucks on the road. The campaign aims to ban road transport of hazardous materials over long distances. The campaign will see dangerous materials – including gasoline and fuels – transported by rail instead of truck. Many experts note that this campaign was launched after the holiday season of 2009, when eight people were killed in trucking accidents in a ten day period.

Experts in the US have suggested that certain goods are better transported by rail rather than by truck, as well. A study of heavy trucks in Maine, for example, found that car accidents and traffic accidents involving large trucks were growing and that these accidents had high rates of personal injury as well as fatalities.

The Maine Study, published by The Truck Safety Coalition, found that Maine permitted large trucks of 100,000 pounds – including trucks carrying hazardous goods – to transport items on residential and lower-class local streets. This was done despite research which showed that larger trucks had higher accident risks due to rollover hazards and braking issues.

The study found that rail transport was a much safer way to transport hazardous materials and extra-heavy loads, when compared to trucking transportation options. According to researchers, transporting items by rail, there was only one-seventh the fatality rate per one trillion ton-miles of transport, when compared to trucking transport. As well, train accidents are decreasing even as the number of trucking accidents, according to many studies, is on the rise.

Further, the study found that trucking and trucking accidents are harming bridges and roads, not allowing roadwork to keep up with demand for repairs. Many experts believe that transporting more items by rail instead of by truck can help reduce this problem. Heavy trucks are linked to road damage, and federal studies have suggested that virtually all road pavement damage can be attributed to heavy trucks. Transporting more items by rail may save on road repair and may decrease the number of car accidents and truck accidents due to road conditions.

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