Court comes down on Milthorpe Transport over fatigue breaches

Milthorpe Transport cops $74,500 fine under chain of responsibility law after pleading guilty to 50 fatigue management offences

Court comes down on Milthorpe Transport over fatigue breaches
Court comes down on Milthorpe Transport over fatigue breaches
August 5, 2011

A Victorian court has come down hard on national carrier Milthorpe Transport after an investigation exposed fatigue management breaches within company ranks.

The Wangaratta Magistrates Court fined the NSW-based operator $74,500 and convicted it under chain of responsibility law after it pleaded guilty to one count of possessing fraudulent work diary records and 49 offences relating to drivers who failed to have necessary rest breaks.

VicRoads began an investigation in July last year when one of the department’s officers intercepted a Milthorpe truck.

"Our investigation revealed a large number of unsafe practices by individual drivers and the company," VicRoads Director of Road User Services Dean Zabrieszach says.

A total of 17 drivers were identified as having breached fatigue laws on 208 occasions. In sentencing Milthorpe, the Wangaratta Magistrates Court said the fine would have been much greater had the company not made extensive changes to prevent further offences.

VicRoads says Milthorpe Transport’s conviction is only the third of its kind in Victoria. The previous convictions resulted in fines of $30,000 and $90,000 respectively.

Following the case, Zabrieszach issued a warning to the trucking industry.

"Fatigue laws in particular are critical in ensuring the safety of all road users and must be obeyed," he says.

"Driving tired is recognised as being one of the biggest killers on roads, causing around 20 percent of all road deaths."

Zabrieszach says driving fatigued can be as dangerous as drink driving and that truck and bus drivers who spend long amount of time on the road are at greater risk of falling asleep behind the wheel.

Milthorpe Transport declined to comment on the case when contacted by ATN.

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