A union has called for the imprisonment of transport executives who are caught running unsafe operations, after nearly 50 per cent of trucks tested in a South Australian Police blitz were defected.

Of 63 trucks stopped at Cavan north of Adelaide on Monday, 30 were found to have major defects – mostly with their brakes and steering mechanisms.

Australian Transport Workers’ Union South Australian branch secretary Ray Wyatt said it was clear that fines did not go far enough.

“It’s when people are actually penalised and incarcerated for causing deaths on our roads, and the accountability needs to go to the top, then we’ll have safe roads in Australia,” he said.

“Until directors and CEOs go to jail, there’ll continue to be this squeeze where it’s all about the bottom line and dollars for shareholders.”

SAPOL Superintendent Bob Fauser said a major truck defect meant there was an immediate “imminent and serious safety risk”.

“Parts of the heavy vehicle industry will continue to behave in this way because they are prepared to take the risk that they will not be detected,” he said.

Transport Minister Stephen Mullighan said he would meet with his interstate counterparts next month to push for a nationwide crackdown.

This included broad reforms, such as tougher roadworthiness requirements and higher standards of accountability for trucking companies.

He said Monday’s poor number of defections was the reason why “I and other transport ministers around the country are pushing to put a broom through this industry and make sure that we clean it up”.

“As a representative of a jurisdiction that’s had terrible accidents like we’ve seen on the South Eastern Freeway, along with other ministers like Duncan Gay in New South Wales who, of course, had that horrific accident involving a petrol tanker a couple of years ago, we are absolutely dedicated towards cleaning this industry up.”

Extracted in full from ABC.