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Huge Portland safety blitz on trucks and ships

Southwestern Victoria port action links roads and sea lanes


In a rare law-enforcement and compliance blitz, a multi-agency intermodal operation has been underway in Victoria’s southwest.

More than 25 ships and 400 vehicles were checked this week as part of an operation targeting heavy vehicle and marine safety around Victoria’s port of Portland and Portland’s coastline, Australian Border Force (ABF) reports.

Victoria Police, including the Heavy Vehicle Unit, Operations Response Unit, Technology Enforcement Support Unit, Portland and Hamilton Highway Patrols and local Portland police, along with ABF, the Department of Home Affairs, Maritime Safety Victoria, Victorian Fisheries Authority and VicRoads were in involved in Operation Crossway between February 26-27.

The operation aims to ensure heavy vehicle operators and associated companies comply with the relevant road safety legislation, and that the dock precinct’s safety and security is maintained through a range of cargo checks.

During the operation 61 heavy vehicles checks were conducted with authorities looking for traffic, fatigue and compliance breaches.

“Pleasingly no trucks were taken off the road, however, overall, when including other vehicles checked, 57 vehicles were found to be unroadworthy,” ABF says.

Police conducted 86 preliminary breath tests and performed 70 preliminary oral fluid drug tests with no one found to be over the limit or drug driving.

More than 45 penalty notices were issued for a range of traffic and maritime offences.

One man was located and arrested for an outstanding warrant. He has been charged with use communication device to harass and related matters and bailed to appear before Warrnambool Magistrates’ Court on May 12.

Authorities, using automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) technology, scanned more than 4,300 vehicles during the two day operation uncovering 17 unlicensed drivers, 14 unregistered vehicles and 34 vehicles of interest to the Sheriff’s office.

ABF officers and detector dogs were also on site carrying out checks of port access passes, assessing container security and integrity, and conducting risk assessments of containers departing the waterfront.      

Read how the Victorian government warned the industry on compliance, here

According to Western Region inspector Craig Darlow, the heavy vehicle transport sector had a huge role to play in road safety in Victoria.

“The majority of drivers and businesses take their safety responsibilities seriously, unfortunately there are few who don’t and it’s those drivers and operators that police are targeting,” Darlow says.

“The Portland dock precinct is naturally a focus area for all the agencies involved in Operation Crossway, as it’s one of the main hubs in the west of the state for heavy vehicle activity.

“We’re still seeing behaviour such as fatigue, speeding, illicit drug use and unroadworthy vehicles which remain the biggest contributors to serious collisions involving heavy vehicles.

“Previously we’ve seen an increase in the number of lives lost due to collisions involving heavy vehicles.

“An unsafe truck, a driver willing to take unnecessary risks and an employer happy to engage in unsafe work practices puts an enormous amount of people in the community at risk.

“This operation is not just about enforcement but also hopefully means that by highlighting the fact we are actively targeting this activity, it prevents some drivers and operators from taking these risks.”

ABF regional commander Craig Palmer says the ABF’s presence around ports is an essential part of its mandate.

 “The ABF have a vital role in safe guarding waterfront environments from criminal infiltration and activity,” Palmer says.

“Our trained officers and dedicated detector dog teams, undertake a variety of compliance examinations and activity alongside our multi-agency partners.

“The ABF’s Border Watch program also plays an important role in uncovering illegal activity at the border and the ABF encourages any individual or group that identifies suspicious border activity to report it to Border Watch. Information can be reported anonymously.”


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