Fewer but larger trucks will save lives: expert

A WORLD Bank road safety expert has called on Australia to reduce speed limits and move freight transport off the road network.

Speaking at the Australasian Road Safety Conference in Canberra, World Bank Road Safety lead Soames Job said getting trucks off roads would make drivers safer.

"It's not to say that truck drivers are less safe, but when a truck is involved in an accident it is often more serious," he said.

"That's simply due to the size and mass of the truck.

"We need to incentivise alternative ways of moving freight."

Mr Job told the conference reducing speed limits across the road network would also help save lives.

He said suggestions reducing the speed limit would "destroy the economy" were unfounded.

But Australian Trucking Association chief of staff Bill McKinley said the answer to reducing the number of trucks on the nation's roads was not moving freight off roads - but into bigger trucks.

"Our view is the chances of being in an accident with a truck relate to the number of trucks on the road," he said.

"The answer to that is being able to use larger and safer trucks."

Mr McKinley said the ATA was in discussions about using two-trailer road trains on major roads such as the Hume Hwy between Sydney and Melbourne.

He said drivers of larger trucks are licensed at a higher standard than the heavy vehicle licence held by semi-trailer drivers.