Cootes Transport fined $50K in Victoria for vehicle faults

By: Paul Howell

Trucking firm cops another financial whack, this time in Victoria.

Cootes Transport fined $50K in Victoria for vehicle faults
The $50,250 fine is the latest in a series of actions against Cootes Transport since its involvement in a fatal crash last year.


Cootes Transport has copped a fine of $50,250 in Victoria for operating unsafe vehicles.

The Melbourne Magistrates Court issued the penalty for 67 offences discovered after Victorian authorities subjected Cootes’ fleet to inspection.

The penalty is in addition to the $440,000 fine the company received in New South Wales in relation to a crash that killed two people in Sydney’s northern suburbs last year.

Cootes grounded its fleet of fuel tankers immediately after that incident and road authorities in NSW and Victoria carried out rigorous inspections of its operations.

VicRoads found several key safety defects among the fleet, including problems with some of the braking systems.

"These vehicles were heavy trucks carrying fuel and the potential for catastrophe could have been enormous had something gone untoward," prosecutor David Starvaggi told the court.

Magistrate Graeme Horsburgh agreed, but also highlighted Cootes’ cooperation with authorities and early guilty plea.

He imposed a fine of $750 for each charge, considerably less than the maximum fine of $1,400 for each count.

A spokesperson for Cootes Transport says the company has been quick to respond to the fatal October 2013 incident and continues to work on its safety systems.

"Cootes Transport reiterates its commitment to working cooperatively with VicRoads and all authorities to ensure safety on our roads," the spokesperson says.

"Both the magistrate and VicRoads have recognised the level of cooperation from the company, its commitment to new safety systems, and the improved standards of its present fleet."

Since the crash, Cootes has undertaken a complete safety audit of all vehicles and decommissioned 174 prime movers and 249 tankers nationally.

It has accelerated a program to retrofit electronic braking systems on all trucks to be completed by the end of this year, and employed a new national quality and compliance manager with responsibility for vehicle quality inspections.

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