Taxis and towies checked for safety before Christmas

18 December 2014

Roads and Maritime Services and NSW Police carried out a one day compliance operation on Tuesday to ensure taxis and tow trucks are operating safely before the start of the holidays.

Operation Hitch was carried out at Bankstown, Wetherill Park and Botany and targeted the safe operation of taxis and tow trucks in the lead up to the busiest travel time of year.

A total of 98 vehicles were inspected during the operation which included 77 tow trucks and 21 taxis.

The inspections identified 13 major and 56 minor defects, with three tow trucks grounded from the one operator, one for having 14 separate faults and a second with 12 faults identified.

Of particular concern was a fault with the braking system on one tow truck which could have led to the emergency brake not working in the event of an incident.

Major defects included inoperative brakes, tyres with insufficient tread, broken, rusted or protruding body work, damaged seat belts, broken springs and insecure engine mounts.

Investigations are continuing into three unlicenced tow trucks identified in the operation.

Roads and Maritime Director of Safety and Compliance Peter Wells said the joint task force is dedicated to ensuring the tow truck industry is compliant and the community is protected from any unlawful behaviour.

”While it is pleasing most vehicles have been maintained to satisfactory safety standards for the benefit of all road users, it is also clear a minority of owners and operators are not taking maintenance and repairs seriously - this must change."

"We know a crash can be distressing for all involved and want to ensure tow truck operators are obeying the rules and their vehicles are safe and roadworthy to carry out the important work of clearing crashes quickly.

"This is about ensuring those who are sent to help out after an incident don't become part of the problem,” Mr Wells said. 

CEO of the NSW Taxi Council Roy Wakelin-Kings said these inspections are an important part of the regulatory framework for taxis in NSW and are necessary to ensure passenger and driver safety. 

“We are pleased no taxis were grounded however we will keep working hard to ensure standards are maintained and, where necessary, improved.”

NSW Police Force Assistant Commissioner John Hartley said it was pleasing none of the 128 RBT tests carried out was positive.

Mr Hartley said these operations will continue to ensure compliance and safety.

"Given recent changes to crash reporting and the impact on the towing industry, tow trucks need to be compliant when servicing the needs of the community.

"We also know Christmas is a very busy time for taxis with workers often using them as their "Plan B" after the annual festivities.  It is important customers can rely on the service to get them home safely in a roadworthy vehicle.

"Road users can be assured the joint traffic taskforce will continue to keep a close watch on these operators to ensure they provide safe services to the public," Assistant Commissioner Hartley said.

CONTACT: Roads and Maritime Services Media Unit:  8588 5999

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