Victorian and South Australian Police have undertaken Operation Austrans again, this time focusing on drug testing, fatigue and interruption of criminal activity.
Police in Victoria inspected more than 300 heavy vehicle drivers across 3 sites in the state. One in 77 heavy vehicle drivers tested positive during the operation.
Four drivers out of the 309 tested in the Melbourne suburbs of Epping, Dandenong, and Derrimut, were found to be driving under the influence of narcotics. Two tested positive for cannabis use and 2 tested positive for methamphetamine, commonly known as Ice.
South Australian Results
During The South Australian leg of Operation Austrans there were a number of issues identified out of the 542 heavy vehicles stopped, including:
• 11 car drivers and 1 truck driver test positive for drugs
• 75 expiation notices issued
• 16 reports
• 27 major defects
• 21 minor defects
• 8 minor improvement notices issued for Work Health and Safety breaches
• 1 immediate loss of licence issued.
During the SA operation police detected a man driving his vehicle under the influence of both cannabis and methamphetamine. A B-double driver was also detected driving under the influence of methamphetamine and cannabis and a driver of a prime mover was found with defective brakes.
According to one police official, Traffic Support Branch Inspector Steve Kameniar, illegal activity, speeding and vehicle defects are the target of national police this year and police will be looking to reducing opportunities for criminals who utilise the heavy vehicle industry.
Insp. Kameniar went on to state:
“National research shows that heavy trucks and buses makeup only three percent of the vehicles on our roads, but are involved in 18 percent of all road fatalities and over 200 deaths each year.
“During the 12 months to the end of September 2014, 213 people died from 192 fatal crashes involving heavy trucks or buses,” Kameniar says.
“We can’t have a situation where drivers and their employers are sacrificing public safety for economic deadlines. We have no sympathy for that as an excuse.
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He also reiterated the importance of combatting fatigue, reminding drivers to stop and sleep or arrange work around proper rest periods. He explained:
“There is no quick fix for fatigue; using drugs makes the situation more dangerous as drugs interfere with skills vital for safe driving, including perception, judgement and coordination.
“You need all your senses out there on every drive on our very busy roads. The number of new registrations of heavy vehicles is increasing, along with the number of other vehicles.”
Reaction to Victorian Austrans Results So Far
In Victoria, police were fairly pleased with the results of the operation thus far, saying that it indicated an improvement on previous operations. Head of Victoria Police’s transport investigations unit Detective Inspector Bernie Rankin explained:
“While the ratio of drivers testing positive was lower than (in) previous operations it is still concerning to catch four drivers taking drugs during a regular Tuesday work day,”
Insp. Rankin expressed his opinion that the transport industry should be taking more responsibility for risk-taking drivers and conducting more workplace testing.
According to The Victorian Transport Association (VTA) the problem of substance abuse is one affecting the entire community and not the transport industry alone. Its CEO Peter Anderson says that VTA members already take a “zero tolerance approach to substance abuse by drivers”. Mr Anderson also stated:
“The VTA and its member organisations spend considerable time, money and effort on programs that educate and inform drivers and other transport workers about the inherent dangers of substance abuse and driving.”
Read more: http://www.fullyloaded.com.au
To ensure you or someone in your company isn’t found on the wrong side of the law during one of these Operations, ensure that everyone is aware of their role in The Chain of Responsibility. To find out more click here.