On the beat with VicRoads

By: Steve Skinner

VicRoads recently invited ATN to spend some time on the road in a heavy vehicle enforcement car.

On the beat with VicRoads
VicRoads officers Anthony Harris (L) and Andrew Stroud in action.


ATN recently spent a couple of afternoons on patrol with VicRoads officers, and is pleased to report a considerable degree of mutual respect exists between authorities and truck drivers.

However, several interceptions of heavy vehicles revealed maintenance problems: oil and fuel leaks everywhere underneath; bald tyres; loose turntable bolts; worn bushes; faulty tail-lights; faulty door hinges; crappy seats etc.

All of the trucks and/or trailers involved had defect notices issued, and in most cases the vehicle was also ordered to undergo a complete roadworthy inspection. That would typically cost between $400 and $500 at one of the 270 or so accredited workshops in Victoria.

One case was a potentially fatal accident waiting to happen: an empty skel trailer had the chassis rails cracked right through on both sides, underneath the turntable. That employee driver was given 30 minutes to get the dangerous rig off the road.

Meanwhile, the skel’s prime mover had oil leaks, a faulty brake pedal, and a couple of tyres down to the wear indicator.

They were rated as minor defects because there was no imminent danger – but if it was wet and/or the truck was pulling a load, it might have been a different story.

Anthony Harris and Andrew Stroud are the two officers in a section of VicRoads targeting maintenance-challenged trucking companies. Both are qualified mechanics.

"You can tell whether a vehicle has been maintained or not," Stroud says.

"I can give a defect to someone and they will still shake my hand and say thanks for finding the stuff out, because they want to get home just as much as I want to."

There are three types of operation: random patrols like these, planned roadside blitzes, and inspections of truck depots when disturbing patterns emerge.

During the random patrols, Harris says the officers don’t just randomly pull up any truck. He says there is always a reason.

It might be tail-lights or indicators not working properly; slack adjusters not moving in unison on take-off at traffic lights; movement in coupling point on take-off; a quick check of a number plate in the mobile computer shows a defect hasn’t been cleared or the trailer is out of rego; or speeding or holding a phone or not wearing a seatbelt.

Excessive window tinting is another one.

"One driver himself said he couldn’t see out," Harris says.

Routine roadside checks include the lights, windscreen wipers and washers and moving the steering wheel to check rod ends, drag links, shockies and U-bolts.

You can read the full feature in the March edition of ATN.

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