Unique risk factors for foreign actors in road and sea transport of goods?
Foreign actors in road and sea transport of goods are exposed to unique accident risk factors. With increasing internationalization in the years to come, the magnitude of these challenges is likely to increase. The present project will, as a point of departure, focus on four transport safety challenges, and seek to identify other relevant transport safety challenges by means of literature reviews, expert interviews, fieldwork and surveys.
In addition to professional safety culture, it is likely that foreign drivers carry with them influences from the traffic safety cultures of their home country. Factors influencing national traffic safety culture include traffic rules, the police enforcing the rules, driver licensing and driver education
National accident statistics indicate different national traffic safety cultures. In the maritime sector, research has found significant nationality-dependent variations in safety attitude of both management and crew working for a large Norwegian shipping firm. A further cultural challenge for multinational crews relates to communication, which makes up a central component of safety culture.
Competence and training
Accident investigation reports following lorry fires in Norwegian road tunnels suggest that foreign lorry drivers often lack sufficient competence on how to drive safely in the hilly Norwegian terrain, increasing the risk of overheated engines or brakes.
In fact, foreign lorry drivers’ lack of competence on Norwegian roads has been identified as a significant safety problem, especially when it comes to winter driving, with the Norwegian Public Roads Administration (NPRA) launching a comprehensive multilingual information campaign consisting of a “Trucker’s guide to driving in Norway” to lorry drivers who are new to Norwegian conditions.
Technology and equipment
Accident investigations identify several shortcomings for foreign lorries, e.g. the engines are weaker than lorries run by Norwegian actors, and they are generally older. Norwegian media reports about foreign lorries poorly equipped for the winter season, with summer tyres or lacking non-skid chains, are common.
It has been suggested that the rapid increase of foreign lorries on Norwegian roads presents a safety challenge to both drivers and society, partly because foreign transport companies often violate rules on the technical state of lorries and lack of mandatory equipment. According to NPRA, tyres with hard rubber are popular among foreign transport companies, as they are cheap and hard-wearing. However, they also require far longer braking distances on winter roads.
Although internationalisation has been going on for longer in the maritime sector, and international regulation is in place, ships vary in relation to technology and equipment on board. Where these support watch or engineering crew, there may also be implications for safety in shipping. We may particularly expect differences for those ships flying “flags of convenience” in Norwegian waters, in cases where the “home country” is more lenient in terms of standards and regulations. Although the IMO stipulates minimum standards of technology and equipment, it is often the “home country” which ensures that these standards are kept.
The safety performance and the safety culture of a given transport sector can be explained by referring to framework conditions as competition, rules/regulation, type of transport (e.g. goods or passengers) and the cost of accident. In road and sea, the most important framework condition influencing the competitive abilities of road transport companies is the level of wages.
If Norwegian cabotage restrictions are lifted in the road sector in 2014, it is likely that the competition between Norwegian and foreign actors on the domestic goods transport market will be harder, perhaps involving a further pressure towards cutting costs. Eastern European lorry drivers already seem to be choosing the cheapest alternatives, with unfortunate consequences for safety. Apart from choosing cheap tyres, it is also claimed that foreign lorry drivers choose roads with as few ferries and toll stops as possible, in order to save money. As a consequence, they take steep and narrow roads over mountains and around fjords.
A study of operational challenges in cargo ships sailing along the coast of Norway, found for instance that the work periods on foreign ships were considerably longer than on the Norwegian ships, increasing the likelihood of crew fatigue and subsequently the risk of the ships running aground. The need to compete is hugely influential in recruitment in shipping, and explains the intense competition for jobs and widely differential wage levels among multinational crews on board modern ships.