How safe are heavy trucks in NSW?

Published 16 Aug 2017

The safety standards of heavy vehicles are an important issue, as their significant size and weight can make them extremely dangerous in road traffic accidents. This is why the results of a recent investigation into the state's trucks have caused concern.

NSW Police revealed that more than half of the heavy vehicles it inspected as part of Operation Catapult 4 earlier this month had defects that could result in road accidents.

The Joint Traffic Task Force stopped 95 trucks and trailers during the initiative, resulting in 34 infringements and 54 defect notices being issued. Five out of 28 electronic speed limiters were also found to be non-compliant when tested.

Heavy trucks are 'dangerous'

Assistant Commissioner Michael Corboy of the Traffic and Highway Patrol Command said the notices and infringements highlighted that trucks are often "not roadworthy and a danger to all road users".

"Our duty is to keep the public safe. We make no apologies for targeting and taking action against drivers, operators and company owners who cut corners when it comes to safety," he explained.

In 2015, Transport for NSW published its triennial Heavy Vehicle Compliance Survey. The results showed more than one-third (36.5 per cent) of hauling units had defects when inspected, while 4.5 per cent had major problems.

Hauling units refers to heavy vehicles that don't have a trailer attached. Incidentally, 7.3 per cent of trucks with trailers had major defects.

Faulty brakes were the most common problem spotted across both minor and major defects - a finding that will come as a concern for many people, given the danger that heavy vehicles pose on the roads.

Organisations urged to do more

Roger Weeks, Road and Maritime director of compliance, said organisations across the road transport supply chain will face fines if they fail to prevent speed offences, fatigue and other safety hazards among their truck drivers.

"Roads and Maritime is responsible for detecting, investigating and prosecuting breaches of the chain of responsibility laws," he stated.

"Roadworthiness of the truck fleet is also critically important, and Roads and Maritime inspectors will defect trucks [that] don't meet the required safety standards."

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