Gay unleashes new broadside at Cootes

NSW Roads Minister pledges to use registration suspensions over vehicle defects

Gay unleashes new broadside at Cootes
Cootes remains in Duncan Gay’s crosshairs

Cootes Transport has received another broadside from New South Wales Road Minister Duncan Gay about the state of its fleet.

And Gay continued his tough rhetoric towards the company, saying any of the company’s heavy vehicles that are defected risked immediate registration suspension.

The latest barrage follows two Roads and Maritime Services checks of 15 and 20 Cootes vehicles respectively last night and early this week.

Of the 15, five major and three minor defect notices were issued.

"While this is a better result than some of our initial operations, it is absolutely unacceptable the company is ignoring its duty of care to other road users and continuing to operate unsafe trucks on our road network.

"Only yesterday, a Cootes fuel tanker pulled up in a bus bay on Pennant Hills Road and caused traffic delays after it was found to be leaking fuel.

"While the fuel was coming from the truck’s fuel tank and not the main tanker, it still posed a significant safety risk to other road users.

"The truck was escorted back to the Wetherill Park inspection station and found to have major defects for brake and steering issues and was immediately directed off the road for repairs.

"This is not acceptable. What makes it worse, the vehicle had last been inspected on 2 October, a day after the fatal crash on Mona Vale Road.

"On that occasion it was defected for steering, brake, air and oil leak issues."

"It is frustrating to know the truck has travelled around 40,000km since then and again has been defected for major safety breaches."

Gay adds that, earlier this week, another vehicle inspected at the 12 Mile Heavy Vehicle Checking Station was found to have multiple brake defects and was also directed to be removed from service.

"Cootes should have picked up its game better than it has," Gay says.

"This is simply not good enough. The lives of thousands of road users are at risk each time a defective truck is sent out on the road.

"We have the toughest and most active heavy vehicle checking regime in the country.

"Every day NSW Police and Roads and Maritime officers are enforcing road safety regulations on our roads and we will continue to relentlessly focus on unsafe driving and equipment offences.

"We make no apology for continuing our operations to ensure the company is managing its obligations to operate safe heavy vehicles.

"If we have to deregister the defected trucks to send a stronger message to Cootes management, we will do so.

"Deregistering the vehicles with major defects will remove unsafe trucks from the road. Before registration is reinstated vehicles will need to be further inspected by Roads and Maritime to ensure compliance with safety standards."

Cootes parent firm McAleese Group says it remains focused on improving the safety and integrity of its fleet and continues to work cooperatively with RMS.

"Since the initial round of NSW Roads and Maritime Services inspections of the Cootes Transport fleet in October 2013 the company has spent an additional $5 million on repairs and maintenance and has contracted the majority of the Cootes fuel tanker fleet operating in Sydney to independent, highly reputable maintenance service providers," a spokeswoman says.

"Maintenance practices have also been independently reviewed.

"Defects in the fleet are unacceptable, and the company is currently investigating why a number of vehicles that have been serviced are showing defects."

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