EASY access to alcohol and “party temptations” are the major factors behind the recurring accidents involving truck drivers and drink driving along the highway from Lae to Mt Hagen, according to Motor Vehicles Insurance Ltd (MVIL) statistics.
The five-year records showed that on average, more than 250 trucks and semi-tralier accidents were reported every year.
Truck accidents are behind onPMVs as the most common vehicle involved in accidents during that period.
Management for Waghi Valley Transport said the major problem was accessibility to alcohol for drivers.
One of their own drivers recently crashed over a bridge at Sing Sing Creek, about 165km out of Lae.
The driver, who was allegedly drunk, sustained chest and spinal injuries as well as concussion but was recovering and expected to be hospitalised for six weeks.
The transport company is waiting on a police report before evaluating its next course of action.
“There are roadside bars along the entire stretch of the highway, so the temptation is there for the drivers from Lae to Mt Hagen,” a spokesperson for the company said.
National Road Safety Council executive director Frank Ao Aku said the problem was still a cultural one.
“The road conditions are often poor and it is not in many drivers’ mindset that they need to be properly prepared to negotiate road hazards,” Mr Aku said.
“There is no proper education in place to educate them about the consequences of drink driving.
“Their thinking is that they should have fun while driving, as a reward for the hard work and long hours they are putting in for their company”.
Mr Aku said that a lot of accidents also involved time pressure.
“The drivers are covering longer distances without rest because they will make more money, they want to drive fast to reach their destinations sooner.
“They like to make as many trips as they can between Lae and Mt Hagen and as fatigue sets in, the body can’t keep up.”
“We need to look at legislation that may involve interchanging drivers, using two drivers on long trips.”