Reminder to Transport Industry to check loads

3 December 2012

Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) Director of Customer and Compliance Peter Wells today issued a reminder to the transport industry to check their loads before heading out on to the road network.

“We know the majority of the industry does the right thing and works professionally to both secure their loads properly and also to make sure they are not more than 4.3 metres high for general truck access,” Mr Wells said.

"While most people are doing the right thing, the number of overheight truck incidents we continue to see on the network is very concerning.

“Most concerning is the safety risk to heavy vehicle drivers and other road users and to NSW tunnel and bridge infrastructure. Even a small number of overheight trucks pose an unacceptable risk.

"These incidents can potentially cause thousands of dollars damage to infrastructure such as tunnels and bridges and cause significant traffic disruption.

“Whether you are loading or unloading trucks, a consignee or consignor, heavy vehicle driver or owner - everyone needs to ensure loads comply with height requirements.

“Sticking with the rules improves safety and avoids large and costly claims and litigation if infrastructure is damaged. 

"In early November, a heavy vehicle struck the roof of the Marsh Street on ramp tunnel to the M5 East, causing extensive damage.

"It was only sheer luck there were no other motorists near the truck when it entered the tunnel.

"A week later a truck carrying an excavator caused damage to both the Cooks River Tunnel and the M5 East tunnel.

"This incident closed all citybound lanes of the M5 East from King Georges Road to General Holmes Drive for a number of hours and caused the M5 East tunnel to be closed overnight while repairs were carried out.

"Motorists were significantly affected by the closure with extensive delays to public transport of more than an hour and 15 minutes.

"Safety is our major concern and drivers who engage in this sort of behaviour put themselves and other drivers at risk.

"A similar situation may have also occurred last Wednesday if not for vigilant RMS inspectors who managed to stop three southbound overheight heavy vehicles from entering the airport tunnel.

"There are plenty of signs to warn heavy vehicles of the height of tunnels on approach and there is simply no excuse for ignoring them.

"Stiff penalties of $2052 and six demerit points apply for drivers of heavy vehicles which disobey the clearance signs at a bridge or tunnel. 

"Others in the chain of responsibility may also face charges attracting $27,500 fines for the first offence and $55,000 per offence for second and subsequent offences. Other fines may also apply for fatigue, mass and dimension offences.

"There is also the risk of having to pay compensation for damage to infrastructure, similar to the $1.4 million two companies were ordered to pay for damage to the Maitland pedestrian bridge.

"The decision handed down in September was the first time an Australian court ordered damages for road infrastructure caused by negligence but it won't be the last if these dangerous incidents continue.

"We want the road freight industry to be clear, disrupting traffic and other road users by causing significant delays through ignorance or mismanagement around heavy vehicle loads is unacceptable," Mr Wells said.

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