A crowdsourced website is letting truck drivers spot and discuss problems on sections of road within South Australia and Victoria’s timber and agriculture-rich Green Triangle.

Key points:

  • An interactive tool allows truck drivers to identify road issues before accidents occur
  • The trial of the safety initiative is initially in the Green Triangle
  • Data will be collated and presented to road owners

Truckspot is an online tool that lets drivers provide a snapshot of issues or ideas by marking them on an interactive map.

The project has been administered by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator in conjunction with Safe Freight Networks Australia (SFNA), and its trial will focus on roads in western Victoria and the south-east of South Australia.

SFNA chief executive officer John Ernst said the aim of the project was to collect the data and use it to improve the safety of roads in the area before an accident occurred.

He said a lot of the funding of roads was around black spot funding.

“They wait until accidents happen and, unfortunately, somebody’s been killed. And then retrospectively they’ll go back and say ‘Oh yes, we need to upgrade this road’ or ‘We need to do this sort of treatment to the road’.

Mr Ernst said the new initiative gave the drivers that power.

“What we’re hoping for through this system is that they can tell us and we will end up with truck spotting rather than black spotting areas,” he said.

“So road owners have got a real stake in this project and they are already showing great interest because they obviously want to spend money where it is needed.”

State of roads is dangerous

Jodi Fry operates a transport business in western Victoria and she slammed the current state of the roads in the Green Triangle.

“For example, the Woolsthorpe-Heywood Road, which is a designated transport route, is for the most part a single-lane, 50-kilometre stretch, and that lane is potholed and the shoulders are potholed.

“If you meet a truck on that road and you have to get off the edge of the road it can be a drop-off of [20 centimetres] in some places … so it’s a dangerous situation.”

The Green Triangle is heavily used by huge logging trucks.(ABC South East SA: Isadora Bogle)

She said the poor road infrastructure was also increasing the wear and tear on trucks.

“Every time a truck is taken off the road for maintenance it costs that company in downtime for the work that they can’t get done,” she said.

“To be quite honest too much of that, like we see in our region, can actually put a company under serious financial pressure.”

Simple and effective tool to use

Mr Ernst said the tool was accessible via phone and was simple to use.

“Truck drivers just identify areas on the map that they’ve had concerns about and write some notes about that,” he said.

Porthaul driver Tim Atkins uses the Truckspot website on the road at Mount Gambier.(ABC South East SA: Todd Lewis)

Ms Fry urged companies to get behind the initiative.

“I’d just like to get all the transport companies, in particular, to make an effort to get onto the website and highlight the areas of greatest concern,” she said.

“Then we have something to pass on, and put pressure on, to get these roads up to scratch.”

Truck drivers can access the interactive mapping tool at truckspot.crowdspot.com.au.