FIRST ON 7: The Transport Workers Union has accused the Abbott Government of plotting to scrap the body responsible for keeping big trucks safe on our roads.
7News can reveal that thousands of trucks in New South Wales have been found to have major defects, and the union fears the danger will only become worse.
The Mona Vale tanker explosion is shining a disturbing new light on truck safety.
The Transport Workers Union (TWU) claims the drive by big retailers to cut delivery costs is forcing trucking companies to slash their maintenance budgets.
"There's all this talk about getting food on the shelves as fresh as possible and as quickly as possible but what we don't want is people being killed on the roads," the TWU's Michael Kaine said.
7News can reveal the latest figures on truck safety show more than 3000 heavy vehicles in NSW were found to have major defects, and of those, 176 have been taken off the road.
A senior Coles manager recently admitted to the Road Safety Tribunal that "I wouldn't have a job if I didn't meet my key performance indicators...this year we will reduce transport costs by five per cent."
But the Abbott Government is now reviewing the Road Safety Tribunal's future after pressure from powerful retailers to abolish the watchdog.
"It's the big end of town isn't it? It's who you know and who has influence on you," Michael Kaine said.
"Let it do its work and lives will be saved."
The union says if the Abbott Government goes ahead with scrapping the Road Safety Tribunal the threat to the safety and lives of all motorists would only be increased.