Tasmanian coroner in truck driver training call

Load restraint training and licensing gap the focus of recommendations

Tasmanian coroner in truck driver training call
The coroner’s report stemmed from a round bale coming loose from a truck


Increased critical scrutiny the state of truck driver training has extended to Tasmania, with that state’s Coroner’s Office has added its voice to the mix.

Coroner Rod Chandler has released his findings on the deaths of Michael and Tracie Pel who were knocked off their motorcycle in 2015 when hit by one of two 500kg round silage bales that fell off a truck.

Though the bales were stacked two high and the truck was fully laden, they were restrained by a single ratchet webbing strap that ran over the top of the upper bale.   

The coroner notes the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) requires compliance with a Load Restraint Guide. Section E, Part 6 of that Guide relates to the loading and restraint of hay bales for transportation.

It sets out the method whereby bales should be restrained by use of webbing straps to restrict all forward, rearward, side and upward movement along with use of chain-bracing to prevent any load shift or movement.

The lack of proper restraint came into play due to a 4cm road surface defect that, while not an "immediate traffic hazard", did cause a ‘bump’.

No other causes or circumstances were involved and the driver was fined $12,000 and disqualified from driving for four months on 13 charges including breaching the NHVL.

What exercises the coroner’s mind is the training shortfall.

"I am advised that drivers of heavy vehicles in Tasmania do not receive any formal training or instruction upon load restraint," his finding reads.

"It leads me to recommend that Transport 4 Tasmania (Department of State Growth), give consideration to incorporating in its licencing test for drivers of heavy vehicles suitable questions relating to the Load Restraint Guide and appropriate loading methods.

"It is my suspicion that many licenced drivers in Tasmania are unaware of the Load Restraint Guide and the safe means of restraining loads which it prescribes.

"It is therefore my further recommendation that Transport Tasmania give consideration to producing a pamphlet setting out in simple form the requirements of the Load Restraint Guide.

"That pamphlet could then be sent out with all licence renewal notices."

A response has been sought from the Tasmanian government.


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