Cootes Transport fined $440,000 after fatal tanker crash

Last years Sydney northern beaches fatal tanker crash involving Cootes Transport has lead to a fine of $440,000. The Cootes Transport tanker rolled on its side, burst into flames and collided with several cars in Mona Vale in October 2013.

Cootes Transport came under intense scrutiny after the crash, in which two people were killed and five injured, with the New South Wales Roads and Maritime Services alleging it had discovered significant defects in the company’s fleet, including faulty brakes and suspension.

Magistrate Lee Gilmour said that Coote’s business carried inherent risks, with 950 prime movers and tankers in their fleet as of September last year, which carried “highly flammable and explosive contents” across Australia.

The Guardian reported:

With these dangers, she said, the vehicles “must be highly maintained to eliminate or at least minimise any damage”.

There was “no excuse” for Cootes allowing its maintenance systems to deteriorate, with some registration failures appearing to be a cost-cutting measure, she said.


Magistrate Gilmour acknowledged that while it was not clear how the problems arose that the company had taken steps to prevent further breaches, resulting in a fine of $440,900.

While a $440,900 fine may be a significant penalty to smaller trucking companies, the question has to be asked if such fine is a significant enough deterrent to large companies such as Cootes Transport? Clearly in this case Cootes has paid in other ways, mostly lost contracts, while sadly the victims of the accident and their families have paid the ultimate price – their lives.

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