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NSW police concerned by earthmover transport infringements

Police in New South Wales are concerned at the number of issues identified with heavy vehicles carrying oversize and over-mass loads during the Operation Austrans, which ends today.

“Given the task that drivers and operators have in moving heavy and wide loads, such as earthmoving and other infrastructure, to identify some trucks tampered with is particularly disappointing,” Traffic and Highway Patrol Command Acting Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith says.

“Speed limiters set over 100km/h, worn tyres, incorrect permits or permits not complied with, unlicensed drivers, and vehicles not properly registered – these are all particularly disappointing and will be a focus for the Joint Heavy Vehicle Taskforce in the future.”

Operation Austrans was a four week campaign which ran from May 20 to until June 16, 2014 and targeted speed compliance, fatigue, vehicle standards and drug use. It involved the NSW Police Force Traffic and Highway Patrol Command, the Joint Heavy Vehicle Taskforce and Roads and Maritime Services Inspectors and Investigators.

The operation intercepted 50,083 trucks and trailers across NSW.

Smith says it is concerning that out of 879 Engine Control Module downloads, 79 trucks were tampered with to allow speeds over the 100km/h limit for heavy vehicles. One truck detected at Moree, in the state’s west, had its speed limiter tampered with to allegedly allow it to travel more than 60kmh over its legally allowed speed limit.

“Despite the amount of time and effort that goes into our joint enforcement program, there are still some drivers and operators that run the risk of speeding,” Smith says. “This poses a risk not only to drivers and companies, but also to other road users.

“Given our partnership with NSW Roads and Maritime Services, Traffic and Highway Patrol Officers now have the ability to download the engines of speeding trucks at the roadside. This means if we detect a tampered truck, it will be grounded, towed away, and rectified. The operator will then be contacted and have to send another truck to pull the load away.

Smith says this will trigger a much broader audit of the fleet involved “that may result in a compliance inspection of depots across Australia and the remainder of the fleet intercepted to identify whether speed tampering is common practice”.

In addition to the speed tampering issues, officers also:

  • Identified 7201 defects for oil and fuel leaks, brakes, steering, trailer coupling, and other issues
  • Issued 3339 infringements for speeding, licence, and log book offences
  • Issued 841 breach notices for unsecure loads, fatigue, permit and other offences.
  • Inspected 12 containers for load restraint, and
  • Conducted 3105 drug tests, resulting in 26 positive results

NSW Roads and Maritime Services Safety and Compliance Director Peter Wells says Operation Austrans has paved the way for future investigations targeting distribution centres as well as drivers.

“Following on from the success of NSW heavy vehicle operations, our road enforcement has now moved up another gear and we are increasingly taking our investigations off-road,” Wells says.

“We have recently carried out eight compliance operations and the main offences detected were load restraint, mass, and fatigue. Of the 862 units inspected there were 104 defects found and only one distribution centre was found to be operating well.

“As professionals in the industry, we need top management in companies operating distribution centres to ensure they are operating in accordance with the law,” Wells says. “For example, it’s not only up to the driver to ensure the load is securely tied down – we are wanting to stress that owners, managers, and off-road parties must take their responsibilities seriously.

“This will help ensure the safety of the driver, the company, and indeed the community. We will continue our efforts with the off-road transport logistics sector to drive further improvements in compliance,” he adds.

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