Jail time looms for truck drivers ignoring traffic rules on SA freeway

By: Brad Gardner, Photography by: Brad Gardner

New mandatory inspection regime and dangerous driving offence are being considered in South Australia.

Jail time looms for truck drivers ignoring traffic rules on SA freeway
South Australia transport minister Stephen Mullighan is planning to introduce new penalties for heavy vehicle driving offences.


Truck drivers who ignore road rules on a South Australian freeway could face a new dangerous driving charge and be jailed.

SA transport minister Stephen Mullighan is considering legislative changes to hold truck drivers liable for dangerous driving if they ignore low-gear and speed limit directions when descending the South Eastern Freeway.

The plan stems from coronial recommendations following the death of truck driver James Venning, whose truck crashed at the bottom of the freeway in January 2014.

"The government supports the deputy coroner’s recommendation that drivers of heavy vehicles speeding on the freeway down-track should be charged with dangerous driving," Mullighan says.

"We are pursuing legislative amendments to allow for this meaning the drivers could be jailed."

"Laws will also be investigated to make it possible for drivers to be imprisoned for breaching the Australian Road Rule 108, which requires heavy vehicles to use low gear on the freeway descent instead of relying on their brakes."

The SA Government is also planning to work with the trucking industry and road safety groups on designing a mandatory inspection regime for heavy vehicles.


Important news for truck drivers who travel on the South Eastern Freeway.

Posted by Owner Driver on Thursday, 24 September 2015


"We are committed to working closely with all stakeholders and the community to design a scheme that strikes a balance between the safety of all road users and the livelihoods of truck drivers and operators," Mullighan says.

"Currently a truck can go through its entire working life without ever being independently inspected – that is unacceptable."

SA deputy coroner Anthony Schapel made 17 recommendations following the death of Venning.

Many of the recommendations have been accepted, but some were seen as too difficult to implement, such as making it compulsory for a trained and experienced driver to accompany someone on their first descent of freeway.

Furthermore, the government did not support requiring truck drivers to demonstrate freeway descent competence to a trained instructor before a licence can be issued. It says the current number of authorised examiners is unable to meet demand for drivers requiring training.

Trialling a reduced speed limit of 40km/h for heavy vehicles and 80km/h for light vehicles on the descent lost out to traffic modelling showing safety risks of any further reductions.

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