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The Transport Workers Union (TWU) has told a Government inquiry the industry has a safety crisis.
The inquiry is investigating a link between truck driver pay and road accidents.
The union's national secretary, Tony Sheldon, says competitive pressure contributed to 235 deaths in truck accidents last year.
"In the case of owner drivers, if you haven't got enough pay then you can't maintain your vehicle and the only way of doing it is doing extraordinary hours," Mr Sheldon said.
"Fifteen per cent of long distance truck drivers admit to doing over 100 hours a week because of client demand, trying to keep their trucks on the road."
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