A post on popular trucking industry website Fullyloaded.com.au recently highlighted an important issue for members of the industry particularly drivers and operators. The article described a crackdown by law enforcement on defects, infringements and registration breaches in the trucking industry.
The targeted enforcement campaign led to officers handing out hundreds of notices for these defects, infringements and registration breaches.
According to the post, NSW authorities have come down hard on the trucking industry and have begun with an operation targeting heavy vehicles in the state.
As we approach Christmas safety on the road becomes an even greater concern because historically this has always been a period of increased road crashes, many of which involve heavy vehicles. That prompted authorities to crackdown on the trucking industry to ensure that road safety in prioritised in the lead-up to Christmas.
A joint operation between NSW police and Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) resulted in the inspection of at least 1000 trucks. The operation dubbed Operation Shield resulted in 796 defect notices being issued. This is in addition to the 129 infringements notices and 119 registrations breaches that were also issued.
The operation resulted in the discovery of speed limiter tampering, improper load restraint, expired travel permits, drug use and mechanical failures, as John Hartley, NSW police assistant commissioner explained:
“To see some of the trucks during the operation with significant mechanical or load restraint faults is simply not good enough,” NSW Police assistant commissioner John Hartley says.
“One truck in particular was intercepted missing two wheels on the B-double trailer, and the axle being held up by chains. It was obviously fortunate for the driver and the company that officers took action when they did, effectively preventing a serious crash.”
Mr Hartley also went on to detail one incident he witnessed where an over length truck and trailer with large lengths of angle iron were being used to restrain other iron products – a dangerous practice which he described as a “grave concern”.
It seems that some people employed in the road transport industry still aren’t aware of their duties under chain of responsibility laws and those that are aware, aren’t complying with these laws.
Mr Hartley singled out the driver, fleet operator and people who loaded the trailer as being at fault. He highlighted that even the customer whose products were being transported could be held liable if an incident were to occur, it is crucial that employers ensure everyone involved in the road transport chain is trained on Chain of Responsibility and what is expected of them.
Mr Hartley went on to state:
“Even the customer who has purchased the product is liable in the event of a crash,” he says.
Other concerns identified during the crackdown include 22 positive results from the 1,861 random drug tests officers conducted and 3,478 random breath tests that returned a negative result. Speed tampering was however the greatest concern identified during the crackdown. Mr Harley explained why speed tampering is such a problem in the sector,
“Out of the 264 trucks that were subjected to an engine control module download by officers, 33 were found to have been tampered with, which is a totally unacceptable risk to road safety,” Hartley says.
“Not only do those drivers face a penalty of $2,252, but operators and companies face penalties, with one recently fined $10,000 for allowing such practices to occur.”
“Speed tampering is not only dangerous to the driver and other motorists, but it also places the operators and directors of companies at great risk of prosecution, which is evident in recent court outcomes where penalties have been over a million dollars in some circumstances,” he says.