Ban sick truckies
By SALLY GORDON
THE ex-wife of a former Grafton truck driver killed in an horrific accident, is demanding authorities monitor the health of heavy-vehicle drivers.
Sixty-year-old John Flavell, a former Grafton businessman, died on January 20 this year, when his semi-trailer loaded with 24 tonnes of steel crashed into trees on Picton Road near Wollongong.
Carmel Flavell, John's ex-wife of 15 years and mother to his four children, wants to know how and why he was allowed to drive a truck.
According to Ms Flavell, her ex-husband had a history of cardiac problems and it had only been a few months before the accident that John was discharged from hospital after collapsing.
Ms Flavell is still waiting for the results of her ex-husband's post mortem examination but said police believe John may have had a heart attack before the accident.
"Even without an official report, police believe he's had a heart attack because there were no brake lights or skid marks," Ms Flavell said.
Ms Flavell strongly believes her ex-husband should not have been permitted to drive.
"All I know is, that he was in that truck and he shouldn't have been, because he wasn't healthy enough to drive it," she said.
"There should be strategies in place ... some type of health monitoring system that determines whether people are healthy enough and strong enough to drive a truck.
"Because he was driving when he shouldn't have been, my children have lost their father ... it could have been avoided and I am asking questions."
As part of her investigation into John's death, Ms Flavell has approached the Transport Workers Union, the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA), the police and prepared a submission in the hope of a coronial investigation.
John's death came only eight days after a survey of Transport Worker's Union members was released, which found that one in four truck drivers in NSW had been involved in an accident in 2005.
The RTA maintains that certain licensees must submit a satisfactory medical report before their licence can be renewed.
Further, legislation requires the holder of a driver's licence notify the RTA of any long-term injury or illness that may impair driving ability.
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"The RTA must be satisfied that all licence holders are medically fit to drive," the RTA website states.
An RTA spokesman said licence applicants for a multi-combination (MC) licence were required to pass a medical examination before it would be issued.
"For all other licence classes a medical examination must be completed if the customer advises the RTA they have a medical condition," he said.
"The law requires the holder of a driver's licence to notify the RTA as soon as possible of any long term injury or illness that may impair his or her ability to drive safely.
"The RTA must be satisfied that all licence holders are medically fit to drive. A licence holder can be directed to have regular medical examinations because of a medical condition or because of advanced age. Some drivers must also have an annual driving test. This applies to all licences."
MC licence holders are required to present medicals: at 21, then every 10 years; at 40, then every five years; at 60, then every two years, and; at 70, then every year.