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Truck compliance operation finds multiple issues

Truck safety is one of the most important aspects of the transport industry. With NSW roads carrying more than 60 per cent of the nation's freight, road users can be affected if operators take risks.

To address this issue, authorities conduct regular campaigns targeting both unsafe and illegal behaviour.

In the latest attempt, the Joint Heavy Vehicle Taskforce launched Operation Siritis. From 6am Tuesday August 19 to 10pm Thursday August 21, officers monitored heavy-vehicles traveling on the Hume Highway.

Over the operation's 68 hours, personnel from the NSW Police Traffic and Highway Patrol Command and Roads and Maritime Services inspected 771 trucks and trailers at three sites.

In total, 227 defect notices were issued for a range of issues including brakes, suspension, tyres, lights and even oil/fuel lines. Four trucks were immediately taken off the road after officers found serious safety problems. Those operators will be further assessed by authorities to determine whether a full investigation is needed on their entire fleet.

However, the problems didn't end with just the trucks - there were also issues with drivers and licencing. Drivers were given a total of 378 infringements and over 200 field court attendance notices for a range of issues. This included poor loading, work diary inconsistencies and licence and registration problems.

Unusual situation

NSW police highlighted an example where truck drivers and operators could do more to ensure the safety of all road users.

Police stopped a refrigerated truck, on the second day of the operation, and found that the driver was transporting a load of live barramundi. The fish were on their way to Sydney restaurants and were contained within six tanks on the back of the truck.

On closer inspection, officers discovered that the trailer carrying the fish was rusty and the tanks were not properly secured. As the tank water was splashing onto the highway and the truck was unsafe, the driver was given two traffic infringement notices. He was also issued a defect notice.

NSW Police Traffic and Highway Patrol Commander, Assistant Commissioner John Hartley, said this was a good example of poor management from the parties involved.

"Trucks carrying significant loads that are not securely restrained is a serious issue for the industry overall," he said.

"Joint Heavy Vehicle Taskforce officers shouldn't have to be the ones who are securing loads on trucks that have left major distribution centres throughout Australia."

Equipment tampering

NSW police revealed after the operation that a major issue that cropped was non-compliant speed limiters. More than 200 devices were tested, and 29 were found to be tampered with.

Speeding drivers are a problem across the country, however, the damage that can occur from a speeding truck full of freight is much worse than a private car.

Assistant Commissioner John Hartley described the practice as both highly dangerous and illegal.

Further sanctions

As mentioned earlier, some operators could face scrutiny across their entire fleet.

Roads and Maritime Services Director of Safety and Compliance, Peter Wells, explained it is only a small percentage of heavy vehicle operators who break the law. However, this gives the whole industry a bad name.

"The Joint Heavy Vehicle Task force is calling for operators to commit to their legal responsibility to ensure fleets are safe, compliant and no risk to other road users," he said.

"We will continue to take trucks off the road and penalise drivers."