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Operation Austrans kicks off: are you safe from prosecution this month?

May 21, 2015

Get ready for a month under the microscope.

A big trans-Tasman operation targeting the heavy vehicle transport sector is underway now, and it’s looking out for chain of responsibility breaches in the areas of fatigue, speed and vehicle safety.

“Operation Austrans” is running from 18 May to 13 June, and sees police across Australia team up with road safety agencies to enforce the law across multiple jurisdictions at once.

What’s the blitz turning up this time? After only 24 hours, South Australian police who stopped more than 500 trucks discovered the following:

• 10% of vehicles were found to be defective;
• 2% of drivers tested positive for drugs, with one driver testing positive for methamphetamine and cannabis.
• 75 fines were issued, including for speeding.

Operation Austrans will lead to COR action

Unfortunately, for some businesses, Operation Austrans will be the beginning of a wider COR investigation.

When New South Wales police and road safety agencies carried out their Austrans operations in 2013, it led to 12 cautions and 187 legal actions against offenders other than the driver, using COR provisions.

That means customers, owners and operators were all in the gun for a range of offences, including:
• Instances where speed limiters had been tampered with or were otherwise non-compliant;
• Instances where work diaries had not been updated for months, and;
• Dozens of severe mass, dimension and load restraint breaches.

Can you demonstrate that you’ve taken “all reasonable steps”?

An owner or operator who has let speed limiters be damaged or failed to track work diaries for months on end is going to have a hard time evading liability for a COR speed or fatigue breach.

This is because they will be expected to have taken “all reasonable steps” to avoid a breach occurring – and this should always include some form of oversight or monitoring of driver speed and fatigue.

Likewise, consignors who don’t secure a load properly at their depot will have a hard time pointing the finger back at the driver.

Even if you’re not out on the road this month, you should make your relevant team leaders and staff aware of Operation Austrans. Their actions and decisions now could come under scrutiny later on, and you want to be sure that they hold up.

Until next time,
The CoR Adviser Team