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Fatigue records investigated after fatal head-on

October 13, 2016

Officers from the Joint Traffic Taskforce are continuing investigations after two men, both drivers of heavy vehicles, were killed last week when the trucks they were driving crashed head-on in Erskine Park, NSW.

Following the incident, Traffic & Highway Patrol Officers, Crash Investigators and Roads and Maritime Services Inspectors ‘raided’ a transport business in Kemps Creek at about 7am on Monday 10 October, where they examined a number of vehicles and company fatigue records.

Police will allege that a company-owned truck was at fault in the fatal collision.

The ABC reported that Superintendent Stuart Smith said police examined the company’s fatigue management practices and the work diaries of drivers, saying that: “What we’ve seen this morning is very poor evidence of fatigue management,” he said.

“Those documents that we’ve seized this morning … will form part of a chain of responsibility investigation.”

Superintendent Smith said the outcome of the investigation would determine whether the company will face charges over last week’s collision.

However, the trucking company’s director said his company had been unfairly targeted. He denied suggestions his company did not properly manage its drivers’ fatigue and said the driver involved in last week’s accident was within the standard 12-hour work limit.

Acting General Manager of Compliance Operation Paul Hayes said it was every operator’s responsibility to comply with driver fatigue laws and regulations, including keeping work diaries up to date.

Ongoing scrutiny

“There is simply no excuse for operators and drivers who fail to have the proper fatigue management systems in place which compromise the safety of the driver and all road-users. Roads and Maritime will continue to closely monitor this company to ensure its compliance is lifted to the standard which is expected and required,” said Mr Hayes.

As a part of the operation, trucks from the ‘raided’ company were directed to the Roads and Maritime Safety (RMS) Station at Wetherill Park, where 14 heavy vehicles were inspected. Eight defect notices were issued for a number of vehicle standards breaches.

Two trucks were subject of major defects for a range of mechanical; brake, oil and fuel leaks, with four trucks failing to appear at the Roads and Maritime Safety Station.

Traffic & Highway Patrol Command’s Acting Assistant Commissioner David Driver said that safety should be the key for all heavy vehicle operators.

“Sadly, in light of the tragedy on our road last week, Traffic and Highway Patrol and Roads and Maritime Services Inspectors have had to come together again to ensure those involved are operating their fleets safely on our roads.”

“With defects, fatigue, and other issues identified, we will work closely with Roads and Maritime Services to ensure operators are complying in the hope that we can prevent future tragic events occurring on NSW roads.

“Operators should be aware of their obligations; it is too late when the police and Roads and Maritime Services turn up at your depot,” Acting Assistant Commissioner Driver said.

Your own records

Are you convinced your transport company’s work diaries and fatigue management practices would satisfy the authorities under the Heavy Vehicle National Law? Do you know how to check that the contractors you use for transporting your goods are adhering to the fatigue, mass, load restraint and speed directions set out in the HVNL and therefore, meeting their Chain of Responsibility obligations?

If you’re unsure or want confirmation that you are taking all reasonable steps to ensure they are, subscribe to the CoR Adviser monthly newsletter. Written by transport experts at Holding Redlich lawyers, you’ll get the best legal advice and interpretations of the law in plain English.

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