'Outlaw' Newell truckies in firing line

By: Brad Gardner

Grey nomads plan to band together to ask RTA to limit "lawless" truckies on the Newell to 90km/h

'Outlaw' Newell truckies in firing line
'Outlaw' Newell truckies in firing line

Truck drivers travelling the Newell Highway may face pressure to cut their speed limits because of claims "lawless" truckies are harassing grey nomads.

Mobile home owner Raymond Moore claims the Newell has been turned into an "outlaw zone" filled with B-doubles tearing down the road at speeds of 130km/h.

Moore told ATN truckies are tailgating caravan and mobile home drivers and threatening them if they do not get out of their way.

He says he and other travellers are taking their complaints to the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) to urge greater on-road enforcement and for trucks to be restricted to a top speed of 90km/h.

"We’re going to call on the RTA to bring the speed limit of trucks down," Moore says.

Moore wants the RTA to implement a system similar to the one used by Simon National Carriers, which limits all its trucks to 90km/h to improve safety and efficiency.

The highway’s speed limit was recently cut from 110km/h to 100km/h.

Although a spokesperson for the RTA says the roads department has received some complaints about truck drivers using the highway, there are no plans to reduce the speed limit to 90km/h.

However, the RTA spokesperson says enforcement numbers will be increased during the next three years and regular RTA inspections will continue.

"They are lawless out there. It’s the only way you can describe them," Moore says of truck drivers.

"The speed these guys are travelling at on the Newell Highway is mind boggling."

According to Moore, an elderly man was harassed to the point where he refused to get back on the road because he was a "nervous wreck".

"The truck driver came up and tormented the hell out of him," Moore says.

"He was there for six days too frightened to move."

Moore says he has in the past attempted to help truck drivers while on the road and that he grew up in a family that respected the profession.

But since packing up and driving around Australia, Moore says he has lost all respect for them.

"It’s not just me it’s the whole caravan and mobile home community," he says.

While saying the speed restriction works for his company, Simon National Carriers Managing Director David Simon says applying it to the industry may cause more problems between truckies and motorists.

"Whilst we believe it is good for us, I wouldn’t suggest the whole industry slow down to that speed," he says.

The chairman of the Australian Caravan Club, Lionel Musell, says there have been issues between travellers and truck drivers for a few years.

But he says the group educates its members to help truck drivers by not getting in their way.

He says trucking safety advocate Rod Hannifey has a done a lot of work to improve relations between both parties.

"He has done a lot of good bringing the two together," Mussell says.

Rather than calling for speed limits to be cut, the manager of the NSW branch of the Australian Trucking Association (ATA NSW), Jill Lewis, says there should be a focus on educating drivers.

Lewis says she is unaware of significant incidents between truckies and grey nomads on the Newell.

"Most truck drivers are professional and drive to the conditions of the road," she says.

"I don’t know reducing the speed another 10km/h will make a lot of difference."

The spokesperson for the RTA says the NSW Government has invested more than $50 million this financial year to improve safety on the Newell, following a $30 million safety investment announced lat year.

"The NSW Government has invested more than $250 million on safety and maintenance upgrades on the Newell in the past five years," the spokesperson says.

The upgrades include improved signposting, dedicated turning lanes, sealed side roads and safety barriers.

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