Operation Austrans underway nationwide

NSW Police to use list of worst offending trucking firms

By Rob McKay | May 2, 2011

This year’s Operation Austrans began on the weekend with police in New South Wales and Victoria saying they will focus on issues including drugs, speed, fatigue and safety.

In Victoria, Senior Sergeant Wayne Cully was quoted as saying Chain of Responsibility (CoR) issues would be looked at for companies that figure prominently.

NSW Acting Commissioner John Hartley says NSW Police would pass on any relevant CoR-related information to the Roads and Traffic Authority for action as his service had not been given any extra resources to deal with such issues.

Without such resources, police did not have the time to adequately investigate each link in the chain without impinging on other investigations that were just as important.

Hartley confirmed that there were lists of the 10 worst-performing trucking companies for speeding and for safety compliance.

"Some are common and some aren’t," he says of the companies that appear on the lists.

He would not divulge the
firms on
the lists.

Hartley says it is logical that some of the biggest companies were statistically more prone to feature in such a list but that "there are some smaller companies that I haven’t even heard of, that obviously have committed plenty of offences".

Interestingly, only one NSW-registered company was on the lists.

The information is shared with other state police forces
and the RTA.

Hartley insists the focus would be on dangerous truck drivers and that the clear majority did the right thing.

He acknowledges that out of the 80 truck-related fatalities on NSW roads last year, only 26 were due to truck-driver error, and that this fact was not picked up in mainstream media reports.

Western Australian has one of the more challenging Austrans tasks.

A WA Police spokesman says it will not nominate specific targets beyond unroadworthy vehicles, fatigue, load-sizes and speeding for trucks of more than 4.5 tonnes.

There will be 43 separate initiatives across the state over the month concentrating on main highways and areas where trucks congregate such as around ports and transport and industrial hubs.

On CoR, he says it would depend on circumstances.

"If someone has been given something to utilise as his workplace that is not up to scratch, well then the investigation will work backwards as to why he was given [for example] an unroadworthy vehicle to use," the spokesman says.

Operation Austrans is an annual national police effort overseen by theAustralia New Zealand Policing Advisory Agency (ANZPAA).

According to ANZPAA figures comparing 2009 with 2010, while some offence categories showed a small decrease - especially speeding and driving without due care, down 1,054 to 807 or 3.4 percent - there was an overall increase of 20 percent.

Standing out were increases in dangerous goods/OHS offences at 168.4 percent, drug offenders at 79.4 percent and defect notices at 67.5 percent.

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