50,083 trucks, trailers intercepted in NSW during Austrans

A NATIONAL heavy vehicle enforcement campaign detected a truck in New South Wales' west that had its speed limiter tampered with to allegedly allow it to travel more than 60kmh over its legally allowed speed limit, police say.

The truck was detected at Moree during Operation Austrans - a four week campaign which ran from May 20 until June 16.

As well as speed compliance, the operation targeted road safety issues such as fatigue, vehicle standards and drug use.

Operation Austrans involved the NSW Police Force Traffic and Highway Patrol Command, the Joint Heavy Vehicle Taskforce in addition to Roads and Maritime Services Inspectors and Investigators.

Traffic and Highway Patrol Command Acting Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith said it was concerning that out of 879 Engine Control Module downloads, 79 trucks were tampered with to allow speeds over the 100km/h limit for heavy vehicles.

"Despite the amount of time and effort that goes into our joint enforcement program, there are still some drivers and operators that run the risk of speeding," Acting Assistant Commissioner Smith said.

"This poses a risk not only to drivers and companies, but also to other road users.

"Given our partnership with NSW Roads and Maritime Services, Traffic and Highway Patrol Officers now have the ability to download the engines of speeding trucks at the roadside.

"This means if we detect a tampered truck, it will be grounded, towed away, and rectified.  The operator will then be contacted and have to send another truck to pull the load away.  This will trigger a much broader audit of the fleet involved that may result in a compliance inspection of depots across Australia and the remainder of the fleet intercepted to identify whether speed tampering is common practice.

"During this operation, a truck was identified at Moree having been tampered to allow a speed of 162km/h, which is totally unacceptable," Acting Assistant Commissioner Smith said.

In addition to the speed tampering issues, officers also:

  • Identified 7201 defects for oil and fuel leaks, brakes, steering, trailer coupling, and other issues
  • Issued 3339 infringements for speeding, licence, and log book offences
  • Issued 841 breaches for unsecure loads, fatigue, permit, and other offences.
  • Inspected 12 containers for load restraint
  • Conducted 3105 drug tests, resulting in 26 positive results

Acting Assistant Commissioner Smith said the number of issues identified with heavy vehicles carrying oversize and over-mass loads was a significant concern to police.

"Given the task that drivers and operators have in moving heavy and wide loads, such as earthmoving and other infrastructure, to identify some trucks tampered with is particularly disappointing," Acting Assistant Commissioner Smith said.

"Speed limiters set over 100km/h, worn tyres, incorrect permits or permits not complied with, unlicensed drivers, and vehicles not properly registered - these are all particularly disappointing and will be a focus for the Joint Heavy Vehicle Taskforce in the future.

"The relationship we have with interstate police and road agencies enabled us to share information about the arrest of a truck driver for drug possession near Broken Hill.

"This resulted in an operation by the South Australia Police Heavy Vehicle Enforcement Branch, which recovered further drugs, cultivation equipment, firearms, and other prohibited weapons."

"Aside from the significant issues we identified, it was pleasing to hear from our officers the support that drivers were giving at the side of the road for the benefit of road safety across NSW and Australia," Acting Assistant Commissioner Smith said.

Peter Wells, Director of Safety and Compliance for the NSW Roads and Maritime Services said Operation Austrans had paved the way for future investigations.

"Following on from the success of NSW heavy vehicle operations, our road enforcement has now moved up another gear and we are increasingly taking our investigations off-road," Mr Wells said.

"Roads and Maritime Services, in conjunction with the NSW Police Highway Patrol Command, is now targeting distribution centres.

"We have recently carried out eight compliance operations and the main offences detected were load restraint, mass, and fatigue.

"Of the 862 units inspected there were 104 defects found and only one distribution centre was found to be operating well.

"As professionals in the industry, we need top management in companies operating distribution centres to ensure they are operating in accordance with the law.

"For example, it's not only up to the driver to ensure the load is securely tied down - we are wanting to stress that owners, managers, and off-road parties must take their responsibilities seriously.

"This will help ensure the safety of the driver, the company, and indeed the community.

"We will continue our efforts with the off-road transport logistics sector to drive further improvements in compliance," Mr Wells said.

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