'Dismayed', 'fed up': Police react following Operation Steel

Trucking cops verbal lashing from senior policeman following release of damning results from campaign against non-compliant heavy vehicles

'Dismayed', 'fed up': Police react following Operation Steel
'Dismayed', 'fed up': Police react following Operation Steel
April 18, 2013

The trucking industry has copped a verbal lashing from a senior New South Wales policeman following the release of damning results from an operation targeting non-compliant heavy vehicles.

Superintendent Stuart Smith, who commands the State’s traffic and highway patrol branch, has expressed frustration and disappointment after more than 150 defect notices were issued during Operation Steel 3.

The joint operation ran from April 16 to 17 and involved officers from NSW Police and the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) focusing on load restraint, speed and vehicle standards. Authorities inspected 337 trucks over the two days, targeting Botany Bay, Wetherill Park and along the M5 at Kingsgrove.

NSW Police says the number of defects issued "has left senior police dismayed", with Smith saying he is "fed up with rogue trucks".

"Half of the trucks we inspected were found to be dangerous in one way or another. Of those that had their speed limiters checked, one in four were found to be defective," Smith says.

"What will it take for some of these companies to abide by the law? Another triple-fatal crash? Another family’s life destroyed?"

Along with 154 defects issued for a range of problems, including five trucks with defective speed limiters, officers issued 136 penalty notices breaches for excessive load dimensions, worn tyres and defective brakes.

The results have prompted NSW Police to express concern about safety standards in the industry. The RMS, too, labelled the results "very disappointing".

"We call on the heavy vehicle industry to maintain their trucks in good working order for the safety of all road users," RMS Director of Customer and Compliance Peter Wells says.

"The high number of defects detected in these trucks requires executives and managers of trucking companies to look hard at their maintenance and strongly reduce the level of defects in their fleet."

NSW Police says one truck inspected in Botany yesterday evening had a defective speed limiter to allow it to potentially travel at 193km/h – almost double the speed limit for trucks in NSW.

Another truck was grounded after authorities stationed on the M5 at Kingsgrove discovered a major brake defect on the vehicle.

Meanwhile, a truck was stopped at Port Botany after police discovered many of the dilapidated car parts it was hauling were not secured.

Operation Steel was put together in the wake of two major crashes in which load-shifts within trucks were allegedly a contributing factor.

Smith says some serious crashes in 2012 were allegedly due to trucks breaking the speed limit or carrying unrestrained loads.

"In short, a truck that exceeds the speed limit, or a truck with an inadequately restrained load, is a threat to human life. Based on the disappointing results we have seen over the past two days, it seems some truckies do not realise this," he says.

In a blunt warning to the trucking industry, Smith has also indicated further joint operations similar to Operation Steel 3 are on the cards this year.

"Let me be clear. We will continue with enforcement. We are not going away."

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