VicRoads stands by approach to truck inspections

VicRoads defends current heavy vehicle checking philosophy, despite criticism from NSW over the level of scrutiny undertaken

VicRoads stands by approach to truck inspections
VicRoads stands by approach to truck inspections
By Rob McKay | October 16, 2013

VicRoads will hold firm to its current heavy vehicle checking philosophy, despite criticism from New South Wales over the level of scrutiny undertaken in the southern state.

Victoria’s industry oversight has been questioned in NSW since the Cootes incident and the firm’s poor showing in safety audits in both states. Cootes’ trucks were enrolled in the National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme (NHVAS) in Victoria at the time of the October 1 crash that killed two people.

That many Cootes trucks are registered in Victoria has been highlighted, as has the State’s comparatively few truck roadside inspections compared with the 2 million said to be undertaken in NSW, along with the NSW practice of roadworthiness certification for trucks outside the NHVAS.

"Victoria takes an evidence-based approach to road safety policy," a VicRoads spokeswoman says.

"The evidence in favour of yearly roadworthy testing is not convincing.

"A 2001 Victorian Parliament’s Road Safety Committee Inquiry into Victoria’s Vehicle Roadworthiness System found that there was no compelling evidence that compulsory annual roadworthiness checks would reduce the level of un-roadworthy vehicles in Victoria.

"In their final analysis the Road Safety Committee recommended that the existing roadworthiness system be retained."

The spokeswoman says VicRoads physically inspects more than 40,000 trucks every year.

"The 40,000 trucks inspected in Victoria are physical inspections, not a combination of camera inspections and some physical inspections. VicRoads said last week that it will review the auditing procedures carried out on heavy vehicles once the outcomes of the investigation into Cootes Transport is complete."

In Victoria, since 2005 the annual trend change in fatalities involving articulated trucks has reduced by 6 per cent on average, a result that is almost double the national average (-2.5 per cent) and second only to Western Australia (-7.8 per cent).

For Cootes, the final tally in Victoria was 205 inspections uncovering 136 major defect notices leading to 39 prime movers and 40 trailers being grounded.

As of early this week, all 39 prime movers and 56 trailers, formerly with major and minor defects, had been returned to operation.

In NSW, police and the RMS issued 244 defect notices as a result of Operation Mona Vale, which targeted the roadworthiness of almost 300 vehicles in the Cootes Transport fleet.

RMS Customer and Compliance Director Peter Wells says inspections in NSW had led to 10 vehicles being grounded. Almost 600 defects had been uncovered, with 244 defect notices issued.

"Transport companies need to pay attention and be aware that allowing fleet vehicles to travel with defects is unacceptable," Wells says.

"Companies part of national accreditation schemes must ensure they regularly inspect vehicles to ensure compliance at all times."

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