Police to target trucking during May

Victoria Police to target heavy vehicles on main highways in an effort to crackdown on dangerous road behaviour

May 1, 2012

Victoria Police has kicked-off a month of targeting heavy vehicles on main highways in an effort to crackdown on dangerous road behaviour.

Operation Austrans, which starts today, will target fatigue, speeding, drug use and other driver behaviour issues within the heavy vehicle industry on major highways connecting Victoria with the country’s capital cities.

The national operation has been conducted annually since 1989. Victoria Police says focus this year will be on impaired drivers as police are seeing an increasing number of truck drivers test positive to illicit drugs, per number of drivers tested.

Road Policing Superintendent Neville Taylor says while roadside drug testing of heavy vehicle drivers is targeted, it was still concerning to see around one in eight truck drivers tested return a positive result.

"There has been a lot of positive work done in the industry to reduce drug driving and the majority of heavy vehicle operators are doing the right thing," Taylor says.

"However, there are still rogue companies that are doing little to change this – and it’s those operators we are targeting.

"We know that some drivers resort to the use of amphetamines and other drugs to overcome fatigue – what this is actually doing is increasing their chance of being involved in a collision.

Taylor says heavy vehicles were involved in 38 fatal collisions last year, accounting for 15 percent of all road fatalities. He says fatigue is a major factor in serious collisions.

"Some of these vehicles weigh up to 65 tonnes. A tired or drug-affected driver behind the wheel trying to control that in a collision can have a catastrophic outcome," Taylor says.

"Drug use is not just a police and road safety problem – it is a workplace safety issue that needs to be addressed by the entire heavy vehicle industry to bring about education and change and ultimately a safer environment for all road users."

Police will fan out across the state during May checking work diaries and drug testing drivers. VicRoads and WorkSafe Victoria have been brought in to support the police.

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