Cootes facing VicRoads charges alleging unsafe vehicles

Legal action follows inspections last year and is latest blow to troubled McAleese subsidiary

Cootes facing VicRoads  charges alleging unsafe vehicles
Cootes will face charges in Victoria


Cootes Transport is facing fines that could total almost $97,000 in Victoria after the state’s roads authority, VicRoads, laid charges.

The 67 charges, relating to operating unsafe heavy vehicles, surfaced following mechanical inspections with the assistance of the Heavy Vehicle Unit at Victoria Police last October.

The offences carry a maximum fine of $1,443.60 for each charge, VicRoads states, and the charges will be heard on July 16 at Melbourne Magistrates Court.

Cootes Transport voluntarily grounded its Victorian fleet in October 2013 after VicRoads and Victoria Police issued 139 major defect notices for safety breaches.

VicRoads regulatory services director Richard Bell says these charges should send a message to the entire heavy vehicle industry that safety short cuts are not an option.

"We have a very targeted and state wide view on heavy vehicle safety," Bell says.

"VicRoads conducts about 40,000 random, roadside checks of heavy vehicles every year and every inspection is recorded and analysed.

"If we have any concerns about the maintenance procedures of a heavy vehicle company, we will be attending the depot for a wider audit.

"We also have a team of specialised mechanics that are able to inspect a truck or trailer for underlying mechanical faults that may not be picked up visually.

"We will continue to work with Cootes, and the entire industry in Victoria, to make sure heavy vehicle safety is taken seriously."

The company acknowledged the VicRoads action.

"Cootes Transport continues to cooperate with and support the actions by Vic Roads in relation to safety on our roads," a company spokesperson says.

"The matters arising from these inspections have since been addressed by Cootes Transport which is now in the final stages of a national restructure focusing on a smaller and more modern fleet with an average vehicle age of less than four years.

"The company has also invested in a comprehensive national safety and maintenance plan to improve its systems and processes, its maintenance infrastructure and training as part of its commitment to safer systems and safer roads.

"The breaches relate to inspections carried out in October 2013 and are fully provided for as disclosed by the Company in February 2014."

Cootes will face charges in Victoria

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