Industry bravery needed on chain of responsibility

By: Steve Skinner

Victoria Police appeals for drivers and operators to come forward about dodgy customers on chain of responsibility.

Industry bravery needed on chain of responsibility
Victoria Police isn’t stopping any trucking customers in court.


Victoria Police wants the trucking industry to provide more than just anecdotes when it comes to dobbing in customers who are breaching their chain of responsibility obligations.

Victoria Police says drivers and operators need to have the courage of their convictions when it comes to customers who are pressuring them, for example on fatigue.

"We’ve often received information about that type of breach but it’s very difficult to get drivers and transport companies to actually come forward and make a statement and provide us with the precise details that we need to mount a prosecution," detective inspector Bernie Rankin, who heads up the heavy vehicle unit within the force, says.

"It’s all very well to anecdotally report something but we need a lot better than that … and if drivers in the industry and companies in the industry know of distribution centres, of customers putting a regime on drivers that is not sustainable, then they need to tell us. But of course there is a reluctance within industry to do that."

Nevertheless four distribution centres have received improvement notices in the 12 months to February this year (another 70 notices went to transport companies).

"We’ve actually visited a large number of distribution centres," Rankin says.

"We do get a lot of anecdotal information that that the drivers are parking too long and that the service they receive from distribution centres is not up to scratch, and we’re aware that’s a vexed issue within the transport industry."

The heavy vehicle unit within Victoria Police has 25 people who are authorised to do chain of responsibility investigations.

But despite that impressive number there are no police prosecutions of any customers under COR.

As well as a reluctance of drivers and operators to give evidence, other factors Victoria Police cites for a lack of customer prosecutions include effectiveness of the alternative improvement notices (which don’t involve a fine); problems with chain of responsibility legislation itself, which make it easier for customers to get off the hook, and a need to beef up its own investigative capability.

You can read all about chain of responsibility in Victoria in the April edition of Owner//Driver.

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