More than a hundred HGV drivers and passengers have been killed in road traffic accidents that were not properly investigated due to “legal loopholes” according to Unite.
The union claimed the 109 deaths - figures covering the past five years and attained via a Freedom of Information request - were not recorded as workplace deaths, and therefore the underlying and long-term factors that could have contributed to the fatal accidents were unlikely to be properly investigated by the HSE.
The figure was released as part of a campaign for more truck stop facilities to be built in the UK.
Unite said lorry drivers’ lives were being put in danger due to companies forcing them to work long hours and a chronic lack of adequate welfare facilities.
Unite also conducted a survey of 4,000 HGV drivers, which found 29% had fallen asleep at the wheel.
It claimed drivers reported they were most likely to feel drowsy, tired, sleepy or exhausted if they had slept in their vehicles at the side of the road (65%), in a layby (67%) or in a service station car park (62%).
“The findings of this survey are profoundly shocking,” said Adrian Jones, Unite national officer.
“People’s lives are being put at risk due to a lack of welfare facilities and workers being forced to work excessive hours.
Jones added that “companies are continually forcing drivers to work longer, as they are obsessed with the just in time delivery model.
“This can inevitably lead to tragic consequences, driver welfare should be a company’s first priority not just an afterthought”.
The FTA and RHA said urgent action was need by the government to upgrade facilities.
Malcolm Bingham, FTA head of road network policy said: “The results of this survey are deeply disturbing but reinforce the point which FTA has been making on behalf of its members for some time now: the government needs to take urgent action to upgrade the facilities available to logistics operators right across the country.
“No one wants to be sleeping in the cab at the side of the road, but with such disparity between facilities which drivers can use, sometimes it is unavoidable.
The RHA said the government and local authorities were still not doing “anywhere near enough” to enable drivers to rest properly and safely.
A spokesman added: “Every day truckers across the country are forced to park in laybys and industrial estates so they don’t exceed legal hours because there’s nowhere else for them to go.”