The driver involved in the fatal fuel tanker crash at Mona Vale has been found not guilty of dangerous driving charges related to the crash.
The man was behind the wheel of a fuel tanker that crashed and killed 2 people.
Jurors found the driver not guilty of 2 charges of dangerous driving causing death and of a charge of driving causing serious injury.
The truckie was driving the tanker when it rolled at Mona Vale on Sydney’s northern beaches and burst into flames.
Two people were killed in the crash, Peter Wern and Graham Holfreter and 5 others were injured.
The driver’s defence argued that the heavy vehicle’s brakes were faulty and caused the crash. The prosecution alleged that the driver was driving too fast and ignored signs to use low gear.
The tragic crash which happened in 2013 led authorities in NSW and Victoria to issue thousands of dollars in fines against the trucking operator after investigations revealed defects were rife throughout the giant’s entire fleet.At one state the NSW government was considering banning the operator from its roads.
The operators parent company quickly implemented a number of changes to improve safety. The company modernised its fleets and also motivated a review of vehicle maintenance requirements.
The Transport Workers Union (TWU) questioned why the driver was prosecuted in the first place.
TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon was quoted as saying,
“The driver carried the entire burden for an industry in crisis when facing these charges. Neither the transport company nor the client whose fuel he was carrying were in the dock over corners they cut which led to safety risks,”
“If someone is killed because a vehicle is not maintained properly or because the driver is pushed to work long hours then justice can only be served when those responsible are held to account.”
Major retailers and manufacturers high in the transport supply chain have been blamed by the TWU for many of the issues plaguing trucking operators.
The TWU blamed these giants for contracting work to transporters to force down rates which lead to operators compromising on safety and maintenance to make a profit.
The union has called for a national audit, education and an industrial rights fund to be established. It has also called for transport customers to pay for it.
They say the money should be used to ensure companies are meeting their safety obligations and to educate employers about their responsibilities. It should also be used to train drivers on safety and their workplace rights, the union stated. Mr Sheldon went on to explain:
“Responsibility for carnage on our roads needs to go all the way up the supply chain. Prosecutors, governments and regulators must look at the chain of responsibility (COR) laws and ensure they are capable of holding those ultimately to blame for the daily tragedies to account,”
Currently, individuals and businesses can be held liable for speeding, breaching fatigue management laws or a vehicle exceeding mass and dimension requirements if behind the wheel.
Chain of responsibility holds all parties in the supply chain responsible for ensuring freight is delivered safely and in accordance to the law and is soon due to extend to vehicle maintenance.