Rail lobby wrong on truck permits: ATA

ATA rubbishes suggestions that all heavy vehicle drivers should be forced to obtain permits to pass over level crossings

By Michael House | October 7, 2009

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) has rubbished suggestions that all heavy vehicle drivers should be forced to obtain permits to pass over level crossings.

Responding to calls for compulsory permitting yesterday by the Australasian Railway Association (ARA), ATA Communications Manager Bill McKinley says it is unfair to pile all of the blame on trucks for level crossing accidents.

"B-doubles are used safely across Australia on specially designated routes. Requiring every B-double operator to obtain a specific permit for every truck and route would add enormously to the compliance burden faced by the trucking industry," he says.

"The ATA strongly opposes the suggestion that all B-doubles and B-triples who use level crossings should hold truck-specific permits to use those routes."

The ARA called for restrictions on trucks following the release of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) findings of an inquiry into a level crossing accident in Birkenhead, South Australia last year.

According to the inquiry, a road train without route access permits collided with a freight train.

"[However] It is notable that none of the recommendations from the world-leading safety experts at ATSB involve requiring every B-double and B-triple to hold truck-specific permits for every route they use," McKinley says.

While saying the truck driver was partly responsible for the incident, McKinley argues other factors must also be considered.

"The report shows that road agencies, the rail industry, the trucking industry and drivers all need to take level crossing safety more seriously," he says.

"The management of the work site was clearly a major safety factor. There should have been additional passive measures in place to reduce the risk of the inadequate sighting distance.

"The ATSB found that the driver probably did not stop at the stop sign, and also found that the trucking company had not obtained the heavy vehicle permit that was needed to use the route.

ATN has contacted the South Australian Department of Transport, Energy and Infrastructure for a response to the report’s recommendations.

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