NSW targets overheight trucks with fines and demerits

NSW vows to crack down on overheight trucks, increasing fines twelvefold and slugging drivers with six demerit points

NSW targets overheight trucks with fines and demerits
Borger will 'hammer' overheight trucks with new fines and demerit points
By Brad Gardner | June 23, 2010

The NSW Government has vowed to crack down on overheight trucks on NSW roads by significantly increasing fines for operators caught overloading vehicles.

Minister for Roads David Borger has announced a more than twelvefold increase in on-the-spot fines for truck drivers caught entering tunnels in a vehicle exceeding height restrictions.

The current fine is $141 and no demerit points.

"On 1 August 2010 the Government will increase on-the-spot fines to $1,776 and six automatic demerit points," Borger says.

"There have been 150 incidents in the past year alone of overheight vehicles trying to enter tunnels and the Government is taking new steps to hammer that out and dissuade drivers from entering tunnels when their trucks are overheight."

The Government will also establish a taskforce of officials from the Roads and Traffic Authority, motorway and tunnel operators, the NRMA and the freight industry.

"The tunnels task force will report back in August 2010 and it will consider a range of measures to reduce the chance of trucks hitting tunnels," Borger says.

The taskforce will look at low technology options to stop overheight vehicles, including dangle bars, barriers and warning signs.

It will also examine high-tech options similar to the water wall at the entrance of the Sydney Harbour Tunnel.

Borger says overheight trucks cause substantial damage to infrastructure, traffic delays and jeopardise road safety.

"We all remember the incident in May this year when an eastbound truck hit the M5 tunnel, sending a boom excavator flying and severely damaging the tunnel ceiling," he says.

According to Borger, the current fine is too low and does not reflect community expectations.

"This is about sending a clear message to truck drivers who do the wrong thing…This is about ensuring that drivers who ignore the law feel it in their hip pocket and on their driving record," he says.

"We know that most truck drivers are professionals who take great pride in their driving record—they know it is part of their livelihood—but there are a few very poor drivers out there."

However, Borger has also put the onus on the whole supply chain by saying the Government will use chain of responsibility law to hold all parties accountable.

"If someone has overloaded a truck or a company has made it a policy to break the law we will go after them too on behalf of all those motorists who are inconvenienced as a result of tunnel damage by trucks," Borger warns.

An educational program will be run to inform truck drives of the new penalties.

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