NSW authorities raid two trucking companies

Authorities bear down on Fred's Interstate Transport and Damorange, alleging they broke speed laws and tampered with speed limiters

NSW authorities raid two trucking companies
NSW authorities raid two trucking companies

By Ruza Zivkusic-Aftasi | March 27, 2012

NSW authorities have stepped up their efforts to crack down on illegal behaviour in the trucking industry, raiding two Victorian-based operators today over alleged safety breaches.

NSW Police and the Roads and Maritime Services paid a visit to the Sydney depot of Fred’s Interstate Transport, which is headquartered in Shepparton in northern Victoria.

Victoria Police assisted its NSW counterparts in raiding the Shepparton head office, with officers also targeting Weribee-based Damorange. NSW Police claims vehicles belonging to both companies were caught speeding earlier this month.

NSW Police alleges a B-double from Fred’s was detected travelling 130km/h on the Hume Highway near Albury last Friday while loaded with 65 tonnes of beer.

It says three of the trucks belonging to Demorange were also caught speeding in separate incidents on the highway in Mittagong, on the M7 Motorway in western Sydney and on the Newell Highway at Coonabarabran.

A statement from NSW Police says the speed limiter on the vehicles had been tampered with to allow them to exceed the 100km/h speed limit.

Along with officers in Queensland and Victoria, NSW Police is now tracking down the remainder of Fred’s and Damorange’s trucks on the road, which is estimated to be 80.

The trucks will be escorted to heavy vehicle checking stations and inspected for mechanical and log book safety breaches.

Police and investigators from the Roads and Maritime Services have been deployed to sites across NSW, including Marulan, Mt White and Dubbo.

NSW Police operations commander Stuart Smith says the raids, which have come in the wake of similar actions against Lennons Transport Services and Scott’s, should send a message to the trucking industry.

"By now it should be crystal clear to the cowboy element within the trucking industry that we are not going away," Smith says.

"Truck operators who continue to flout safety regulation are placing the lives of other road users at serious risk."

While saying law-abiding companies have nothing to fear, Smith adds that it is "obvious that safety breaches are more widespread than initially suspected" and that police and the Roads and Maritime Services will hunt down and "prosecute all rogue operators".

"Let’s be clear, the vast majority of the trucking industry is honest and hardworking and are the first to object to the behaviour of a few rouges," he says.

"The message to the industry is: for whatever reason, if you have modified your speed limiter system to allow the truck to travel faster than 100km/h, you need to immediately return it to being legally compliant."

Smith says the force will look over any vehicle closely for evidence of other modifications or defects if speed limiters have been tampered with. He has also put the onus on other parties in the supply chain to take responsibility.

"NSW road transport laws include chain of responsibility provisions which require all parties in the supply chain to take steps to stop breaches of mass, loading, dimension, driver fatigue and speeding laws," Smith says.

"It also raises a question for other parties in the chain of responsibility such as abattoirs, supermarkets, fresh food markets and building supplies. What steps have you taken to ensure the trucks coming to and from your loading docks are not speeding?"

A spokeswoman for Fred’s did not comment, only saying a media release will be issued "in time, at necessary outlets".

According to its website, the company is committed to the health and safety of its staff.

"All of our drivers, including our sub-contractors, are required to complete our rigorous induction program, which sets out their responsibilities and expectations whilst performing their role," the site says.

"We also reinforce health and safety messages through regular internal communications, such as newsletters and ongoing training, which addresses fatigue management vehicle safety and speed management."

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