Outgoing VicRoads manager sees strong future for weigh-in-motion enforcement

By: Steve Skinner


Retiring VicRoads veteran says it’s only a "matter of time" before the mobile technology will stand up in court.

Outgoing VicRoads manager sees strong future for weigh-in-motion enforcement
Darrell Gascoyne says VicRoads wants to work with the trucking industry to improve safety.

 

Darrell Gascoyne has seen a lot in three decades of policing the heavy vehicle industry.

He’s seen one truck ram another truck and then have the driver claim he was just helping push the other bloke up a hill, he’s been sprayed with toxic chemicals as he tried to stop a leaking tanker from reaching town and he has witnessed some "horrendous" speeds.

But Gascoyne says things have definitely improved in the trucking game.

"The industry has changed significantly for the better…a majority of the industry has cleaned up, and I think their attitude has cleaned up more too," says the VicRoads veteran.

Nevertheless he adds: "We will always have our top end, the recalcitrants, who will break the law no matter what."

And it’s those recalcitrants that take the greatest amount of effort.

"They’re the ones that we collect a lot of intelligence and information on and they’re the ones we will prosecute."

However Gascoyne says overall: "We’re not the enemy of the industry. We want to work with the industry, and we want the industry to work with us."

Darrell Gascoyne was speaking to ATN as VicRoads manager, state operations, with his bread and butter work overseeing commercial vehicle enforcement by uniformed officers.

It was just before he retired, after 29 years with VicRoads, both in regional areas and in Melbourne. That was the biggest chunk in 37 years of law enforcement, also with the Victorian Police and the Australian Federal police.

Darrell Gascoyne says improving technology will make it easier to nail the cowboys. He’s referring to what are called "weigh-in-motion" devices, combined with cameras.

"In my understanding that technology is moving very quickly…ultimately it would be like a speed camera," he says.

Weigh-in-motion has been around in Australia for 20 years.

In Victoria, it’s installed on key roads around Melbourne and on most highways, and as well as being a handy tool for road planning, it can instantaneously detect the type of vehicle; its overall mass and axle loads; and speed.

So combined with cameras on occasions, it can detect who is persistently running overloaded, for example – and at what times and where. But accuracy is not yet at the level where it will stand up in court.

"It’s not an enforcement tool. It’s an intelligence tool," Gascoyne says.

However he believes court-accepted accuracy is "only a matter of time and technology".

"If you look across Europe and the USA they call them virtual weighbridges … and they are very advanced with it," he says.

Already mobile VicRoads officers can park near a weigh-in-motion point, hook up to its information, then put suspiciously heavy trucks over mobile scales if need be. Or they can access the data after the fact.

Similar but slower-speed technology is used in the on ramps to fixed weighbridges in New South Wales. But NSW enforcement officers still have to put trucks over the fixed weighbridge to verify weights beyond doubt.

You can read the full  feature on VicRoads’ mobile enforcement practices in the March issue of ATN.

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