Truckies lash out at safety

A group representing female truck drivers in WA's north believe poor training standards and inexperienced overseas drivers are proving increasingly dangerous on country roads.

Pilbara Heavy Haulage Girls spokeswoman Heather Jones said the lack of training was having a dangerous effect on road safety.

Ms Jones said overseas drivers needed to be trained to an established standard to reduce the risk to others on the road.

"The first things companies seem to drop are training programs, apprentices and trainees," she said. "For us it has a diabolical effect, because if you're not properly trained on the road, you will die."

Though foreign-born truck drivers were required to complete theory and practical tests before driving on WA roads, Ms Jones said they required further training.

She said the looming possibility of foreign drivers working under Section 457 visas, which the Australian Trucking Association unsuccessfully pushed for this year, would further erode safety.

Transport Workers Union WA assistant secretary Paul Aslan backed Ms Jones' concerns. "There is now no shortage of truck drivers looking for jobs, particularly in the North West with the bigger vehicles," Mr Aslan said.Mr Aslan said the union was aware of crashes where the inexperience of overseas drivers was a factor, including a head-on collision on the Great Northern Highway last year.

WA Road Transport Association chief executive Ian King said the industry had a high standard of training and it was inaccurate to paint all overseas drivers as underqualified.

He conceded the push for 457 visas was unlikely to succeed because of union opposition.

The West Australian

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