WA Changes Road Rules to Complement other States’ Laws

Transport Owner Receives Manslaughter Verdict following Driver Death

WA Changes Road Rules to Complement other States’ Laws

Directors are reminded that they can now be held personally responsible for COR offences which now also include maintenance issues.

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Operators and company directors should pay attention to a recent case which appeared before the South Australian Supreme Court relating to the death of a driver.

The director of the transport company responsible for the crash in which a driver was killed has been convicted of manslaughter after it was revealed that the truck had not been properly maintained.

The truck’s brakes failed which caused the death of truck driver, Robert Brimson in March 2014.  

The driver was travelling on Main South Road at Happy Valley when the truck’s brakes gave in, causing him to collide into a pole. The driver apparently tried to apply brakes 11 times before the accident occurred. He had only been working for the company for 10 days before his death.

The company responsible was given “repeated warnings” to fix the brakes on the heavy vehicle but did not act and instead instructed Mr Brimson to drive the vehicle with shoddy brakes.

This case is significant for the industry because it is the first in which an owner of a transport company has been held liable for the death of an employee due to workplace negligence.

The director pleaded guilty to manslaughter and endangering a life.

Another employee had driven the same truck 2 days prior to the fatal accident, the company’s owner was convicted of endangering this employee’s life as well.  

The company director denied claims from the prosecution that he had been given several warnings to fix the truck’s brakes prior to the accident and instead blamed his mechanic who he said he relied on to maintain his vehicles.

The prosecutor Tim Preston stated:

“That vehicle had a history of brake failures which were brought to the attention of the accused on a number of occasions and, despite that, the accused deliberately failed to deal with those reported failures,”

“He still directed the deceased to get into the cabin of that truck.

“In my submission, that truck was a death trap.”

Source: http://www.fullyloaded.com.au

Another employee, the bookkeeper for the company Eryn Williams, was a witness in the prosecution’s case. Williams gave evidence that the faulty truck caught fire one month before the crash while the director was behind the wheel, so he was well aware of the truck’s maintenance issues.

The owner allegedly told the bookkeeper that he couldn’t afford to fix the brakes and he used a ball bearing in the brake line to stop fluid from leaking.

Other drivers with the company reported hearing air hissing from the vehicle and another had to use gears to slow the truck down due to the faulty brakes.

This case highlights the importance of COR compliance, including maintenance of heavy vehicles. There are serious implications for directors who fail to comply with COR legislation including hefty fines.  For more on COR compliance click here.