Cootes under inspection again after truck rollover

NSW authorities inspect company’s trucks after tanker collides with car in Sydney.


Dangerous goods outfit Cootes Transport is again under inspection in New South Wales after one of the company's tankers collided with a car, causing the rig to roll.

The incident occurred about 10am yesterday on the Great Western Highway in Sydney and led to the driver of the car being trapped for 30 minutes and suffering serious facial and leg injuries.

She and the truck driver were hospitalised, but the latter has since been released from hospital.

"The company dispatched a specialist response team to ensure the safe removal and disposal of gas product from the LPG tanker and overnight assisted emergency services personnel to remove the prime mover and tanker from the road," a statement from Cootes parent company McAleese says.

"While the precise cause of this accident may not be known for some time, the company is cooperating fully with all external investigations and has voluntarily begun sending vehicles for inspection this morning by Roads and Maritime inspectors at Wetherill Park, NSW."

McAleese says it provided 15 trucks for inspection.

A spokesperson for McAleese says the truck involved in yesterday's incident is less than five years old and had passed a recent maintenance check.

The truck driver was not believed to be suffering from fatigue.

The spokesperson adds that the driver's training is up to date and he followed company procedures for dealing with rollovers.

McAleese is confident the incident is not an echo of the problems the Cootes fleet faced 18 months ago.

Cootes underwent a number of vehicle inspections in NSW and Victoria in the wake of a fatal crash at Mona Vale in 2013.

The incident led to substantial fines, prompted McAleese to restructure its Cootes fleet and almost resulted in the company being banned from NSW.

The Cootes rollover comes only days after the RMS and NSW Police finished a two-day compliance operation targeting the dangerous goods sector.

The agencies inspected trucks at Port Botany and issued 28 infringements for various load, defects, and dangerous goods compliance issues.

Authorities claim there were instances of LPG cylinders not secured, a poorly restrained load of corrosives, and incorrect signage, among other breaches which included a driver not trained to transport dangerous goods.

Authorities also inspected trucks at a distribution centre in southwest Sydney and detected faults relating to ancillary equipment, body and chassis, wheels and tyres and brakes, leading to 28 defect notices.

A total of seven trucks carrying dangerous goods did not have the mandatory signage, while a further six trucks were found to have breached load restraint requirements.

The DC inspection also included 71 random drug tests (one positive result) and downloads of five engine control modules, which showed two trucks had tampered speed limiters to allow them to travel more than 100km/h.

Following the inspection, RMS general manager of compliance operations Paul Endycott announced chain of responsibility investigations would begin.

"Off-road parties such as large distribution centres must take responsibility for ensuring every truck that leaves their docks is fully compliant," Endycott says.

"Of particular interest are the decisions by executives of the businesses that drive the need to obtain an unfair commercial advantage at the cost of good and compliant businesses.

"The message is clear: you must lift your game and take responsibility, not leave it to these operators to shoulder all the compliance burden.

"These operations will continue until this culture of non-compliance and unsafe practices are driven from the industry."

Acting assistant commissioner for NSW Police Stuart Smith emphasised the importance of companies complying with dangerous goods requirements.

"Dangerous goods need to be managed and transported to strict standards, for the protection of not only those involved in conveying the load, but also other road users," he says.


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