Truck drivers face prospect of $4000 fines in NSW

By: Brad Gardner

NSW roads minister wants fines to almost double to $4,000 for over-height truck offences.


Truck drivers caught ignoring low clearance signs on bridges and tunnels may soon be fined $4,000 in New South Wales if the state’s roads minister gets his way.

Duncan Gay has tasked his department, the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS), with looking into almost doubling existing penalties for truck drivers who ignore a clearance, low clearance or no trucks sign.

The move is designed to prevent drivers in over-dimensional vehicles from entering tunnels or travelling under bridges that are not high or wide enough to accommodate them.

Gay also wants the RMS to introduce a new road rule to make drivers legally responsible for knowing the height, width and length of their truck before they begin their journey. Those who fail to do so will be fined.

NSW already has the toughest penalties in Australia for over-height and over-length offences, with breaches incurring a fine of $2,200, loss of six demerit points and suspension of truck registration for up to three months.

"Truck drivers who think it’s okay to blatantly disregard warning signs need to put their brain in gear before they put their truck in gear," Gay says.

"There is no excuse for running the gauntlet and threatening the safety or time and money of all other road users."

Gay’s office says there were 12 over-height and over-length incidents between July and the end of September.

While there has been a 50 per cent drop in the number of incidents since 2008, Gay is frustrated some drivers are still taking risks and ignoring warning signs.

Heavy vehicle inspectors have told Gay the most common response from drivers when asked why they disregard signs is: "I thought I’d have a crack."

"If they want to ‘have a crack’ at running the gauntlet…then I’ll have a crack at them," Gay says.

Warning signs including flashing lights and detectors are already in place ahead of tunnels in Sydney to specifically warn truck drivers when their vehicle exceeds height and length dimensions and to turn around.

The NSW Government has suspended 27 truck registrations in the last two years due to over-height and over-length offences.

Last year it suspended a truck for three months after it struck the roof of the Eastern Distributor Tunnel. The Government also banned a Western Australia-registered rig from NSW for the same amount of time for causing the closure of the Sydney Harbour Tunnel.

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