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Viterra trucks focus spurs SA police safety response

Eyre Peninsula shift from rail to road signals Operation Eyre Safe


With grain handling group Viterra not renewing its contract with rail company Genesee and Wyoming Australia (GWA) on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula, attention has turned to the increased movement of heavy vehicles in the region and the actions needed to ensure safety and compliance.

The rail service transporting grain to Port Lincoln concluded this week, and SA Police say it has held two community forums informing residents about the transition, while also starting Operation Eyre Safe to double down on its compliance message.

“What we’re going to do is really concentrate on the interaction of the ‘average’ road users with heavy vehicles because there seems to be a lot of anxiety in the community in the Lower Eyre Peninsula about the additional trucks and having to interact with them on the roads,” superintendent Paul Bahr, the officer in charge of the Eyre Western Local Service Area, tells ATN.

“Truth is, heavy vehicles have been part of life here on the Lower Eyre Peninsula for decades.

“Since B-doubles started, we’ve had B-doubles. We’ve had AB-triples for a long time. The only difference now is we’ll have more of them.

“So people have needed to exercise these common-sense driving approaches anyway.”

He notes that a common theme from the forums has been concern about the conditions of the roads in the regions – something he admits is out of enforcement’s control.

“It’s not something we can’t control but it’s been something highlighted in the forums as a reason why we need to cautious and patient when dealing with heavy vehicles.

“The approach we’re taking is we can’t do anything about the roads, we can’t do anything about the rail line closure, but what we can do is educate people on how they can best beat the risk posed by the additional heavy vehicles.”

Read how Viterra’s Eyre Peninsula move was greeted by freight interests, here

To assist with those efforts, Operation Eyre Safe, whilst focusing on motorist behaviour around trucks, will also work the South Australian branch of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) to ensure heavy vehicles entering and leaving the region are compliant.

“We have a heavy vehicle enforcement section and they do regular checks as well and keep in regular contact with operators, and the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) has an office in Port Augusta, and they regularly travel here.

“That will be part of the operation we’ll be running.

“Whilst our concentration will mostly be on regular road users, we’ll from time to time be doing compliance checks with trucking industry especially as we approach peak harvest season, making sure everyone is compliant.”


Bahr notes that at the two community forums, the focus has been on emphasising appropriate road user behaviour when encountering a truck either in built-up areas or on highways.

His advice for road users includes:

  • don’t try pass a vehicle when it’s turning either left or right
  • the time it takes to overtake something like an AB-double could be up to a minute and 30 seconds if they’re travelling 100km/h and you’re travelling 110 – so you need to make sure you have sufficient room way ahead on the road ahead of you to be able to do that
  • some of the roads here are quite narrow so there’s not a lot of room for error if you are going to overtake, especially if you are towing something like a caravan or a boat
  • be aware of the sort of turbulence of the heavy vehicles as you go to overtake them – it can both draw you in and push you out at the same time, so be cautious of that

“We’ve also hammered this point too: we’ve done the figures, if you’re driving out from somewhere like Cummins into Port Lincoln and you’re used to travelling 110km/h and have to reduce it to 100, you’re only adding four more minutes to your journey – maybe travelling behind a truck doing that speed isn’t such a bad thing,” Bahr says.


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