LBCA 2015: Cootes now one of the safest operators on the road, Duncan Gay says

By: Brad Gardner, Photography by: Brad Gardner

NSW roads minister says dangerous goods operator is now one of the best in its sector.

LBCA 2015: Cootes now one of the safest operators on the road, Duncan Gay says
New South Wales roads minister Duncan Gay.


The trucking company involved in the fatal Mona Vale crash and rife with vehicle defects less than two years ago is now one of the safest outfits on the road, New South Wales roads minister Duncan Gay says.

During his speech at this year's Livestock and Bulk Carriers Association’s (LBCA) annual conference, Gay cited Cootes Transport for turning around its fortunes after the 2013 crash that killed two people and injured five.

NSW and Victorian authorities launched compliance operations and prosecutions against Cootes following the accident, and the company subsequently overhauled its practices and upgraded its fleet.     

"At the end of the day, we’ve had a good dialogue and that company has changed its structure, changed its fleet and today is probably one of the best, if not the best, in its area," Gay says.

"So it has been a good outcome. We didn’t take them off the road, they know that we really could have taken them off the road. We didn’t want to take them off the road, we wanted to get them to listen to [us] say, ‘Hey, your safety is not at a standard that we can accept’, and they finally got it."

Cootes came close to being booted out of NSW after Gay issued it with a show cause notice to explain why it should still be allowed to operate in the state.

It was permitted to continue operating after it agreed to decommission 50 of its older trucks, fit electronic stability control (ESC) ahead of the 2019 statewide requirement for all heavy vehicles, open up its maintenance regime to external review and introduce new training and vehicle maintenance procedures.

The restructure cost Cootes' parent company McAleese $47.3 million, of which $33.3 million was due to the loss of lucrative contracts in the wake of the crash.

Gay also used his speech to highlight the strong relationship between the LBCA and his department, saying the association has been instrumental in improving heavy vehicle access in country NSW. 

"I think of all the relationships I have under my portfolio, the relationship with myself, the department and my staff with the LBCA is our most outstanding relationship," he says.

"It started four years ago and it continues to get better."

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