Adding to their recent woes, Cootes Transportation and its parent company McAleese are facing a fresh set of problems, this time as VicRoads initiates legal action against the unsettled company.
Following the torrent of inspections that Victorian road authorities rained down on McAleese’s subsidiary, Cootes Transport recently, VicRoads are now initiating legal action which could cost the company almost $97,000.
Anyone who’s been following the story of the blighted Cootes Transport should remember that most of their worries began last year with the horrific fuel tanker crash in Sydney.
Following the investigation into that incident the company’s vehicles were inspected and numerous major defect notices were issued for offences ranging from suspension faults, wheel and brake problems.
Cootes Facing Legal Action and Crippling Fines
Now the Victorian Road Authority has issued the company with 67 charges for its operation of alleged “unsafe” heavy vehicles.
The allegations come after the Heavy Vehicle Unit at Victoria Police assisted VicRoads with conducting mechanical inspections on the company’s fleets and according to a post on Transport website Fullyloaded.com.au, each offence carries a possible fine of $1,443.60.
We will have to wait until July 16th when the case appears before the Melbourne Magistrates Court to hear the company’s fate but according to VicRoads regulatory services director Richard Bell, authorities hope this action will send a clear message to the heavy vehicle industry about the need for Chain of Responsibility compliance. Bell is quoted as saying of the position of VicRoads, transport companies have been advised to take note,
“VicRoads conducts about 40,000 random, roadside checks of heavy vehicles every year and every inspection is recorded and analysed.
“If we have any concerns about the maintenance procedures of a heavy vehicle company, we will be attending the depot for a wider audit.
“We also have a team of specialised mechanics that are able to inspect a truck or trailer for underlying mechanical faults that may not be picked up visually.
Bell has also been quoted as reassuring the industry of the authority’s plans to work closely with the industry, including Cootes in order to ensure that heavy vehicle safety and compliance is a priority.
Cootes Transport hasn’t commented much on the latest action taken by VicRoads but a spokesperson for the company issued the following statement:
“Cootes Transport continues to cooperate with and support the actions by Vic Roads in relation to safety on our roads,”
The negative attention in the media as well as heat placed on the company by authorities and VicRoads in particularly led to the company undergoing a major restructure and improving its safety and compliance plans. It is unfortunate that the company had to come under such intense fire before it made the changes but the fate of Cootes has left a number of other transportation companies clambering to get their safety and compliance plans in order to avoid becoming the next “Cootes Transport”.
Cootes has apparently since invested in a national safety and maintenance plan, but for them it may just be too late. The following excerpt from the post on Fullyloaded.com.au explains more about the company’s latest efforts to ensure compliance,
“The company has also invested in a comprehensive national safety and maintenance plan to improve its systems and processes, its maintenance infrastructure and training as part of its commitment to safer systems and safer roads.
To ensure your company is CoR compliant, we offer a number of services including executive briefing, audit and consulting, CoR training and CoR implementation.
The ultimate fate of Cootes Transport is yet to be determined but their plight serves as an important reminder to other transport companies nationwide about the urgency needed in review of safety plans and compliance with COR laws.