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Authorities dismayed with results of Operation Containment

NSW compliance officials shocked by maintenance and loading issues.


Officers from Roads and Marine Services (RMS) and New South Wales Police have reported “shocking” results from a five-day compliance operation across Sydney.

Through “Operation Containment”, the joint taskforce inspected almost 700 heavy vehicles at Wetherill Park and Botany, and found hundreds of causes for concern. Eleven trucks were grounded on the spot, while a further 12 were issued fines for weight breaches.

Thirteen trucks were given formal warnings to attend to potential maintenance problems.

There were also a significant number of other instances of poorly loaded or secured cargoes. Some 135 of the trucks inspected had their loads adjusted, and 286 had minor defects for load restraint.

RMS director of safety and compliance Peter Wells says one of those grounded was pulled over with items protruding from the side of the load (pictured), and several metal bars not properly secured on the trailer.

The truck was also found to have brake issues.

“It is very difficult to understand how someone who transports these types of loads for a living could be so blasé about safety,” he says.

The operation also uncovered eight instances of speed limiter tampering, including one truck whose limiter had been adjusted to allow it to drive at up to 150 km/hr.

“Overloading, excess speed and poorly maintained trucks are a deadly combination,” Wells says.

“It’s not really a question of if, but when a truck carrying too much weight, travelling too fast and with dangerous brakes, or other maintenance issues will come to a ‘dead’ stop.

“Rogue operators should understand the taskforce will do everything in its power to change the culture of unsafe practices on the roads.”

ATA NSW manager Jodie Broadbent is careful not to say the allegations are unreasonable, but she does believe authorities have overemphasized some parts of the operation.

In particular, she says the legal status of faulty speed limiters was murky.

“Many of the original equipment manufacturers’ (OEM) original settings are correct, but assume all elements of the speed limiting device are working,” she says.

“When combined with a faulty vehicle speed sensor, for example, this can mean it is possible to increase speed, but the vehicle may never have done that.”

She urges authorities to charge anyone they suspect of deliberately tampering with the devices, but says where electronic anomalies exist and no evidence of speeding is found, common sense should apply.

“Defecting and grounding trucks until they can get a certificate from the OEM costs time and money,” she says.

“And there is no recourse for the operator if it turns out the speed limiter settings were not deliberately altered to access illegal speeds (authorities can view speeds through the engine control module).

“When this occurs, a minor defect would be more appropriate.”

A minor defect infringement allows the driver to continue with the task of moving freight, with the requirement that the settings be adjusted within a set time period.

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