Compliance blitzes having positive effect: NSW Police

On-road enforcement focus finds non-compliance is low but industry admits 'work to do yet'

Compliance blitzes having positive effect: NSW Police
A NSW Police image from one of the operations


NSW Police has cited a recent reduction in heavy vehicle deaths to justify its recent spate of road transport compliance blitzes targeting truck drivers and companies.

Recently, more than 100 police officers and Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) staff held a 48-hour Operation Northmore at 11 locations across the state, from Chinderah and Wallangarra in the north to Narrabarba in the south, Cobar in the central west of the state and Marulan and metro Sydney.

The effort captured mainstream media attention.

In what NSW Police told Channel 7 was "certainly to date our biggest operation", the final results were:

  • Police – 7,309 random breath tests, 1,535 mobile drug tests conducted (8 positives), 130 fatigue (log book) offences detected, 99 defects issued, 589 other infringement notices, 344 engine control module downloads conducted (20 non-compliant). 
  • RMS – 3,878 heavy vehicles inspected, 188 defects, 27 infringement notices, 4 formal warnings. 30 dimension breaches.

NSW Police confirmed to ATN that while non-compliance found to be "very low", "on road enforcement activity" was a key focus of the authorities lately to ensure industry standards were maintained at a high level.

Read about an extreme speeding case that led to a company raid, here

Some of the major individual cases included a driver on the Newell Highway at Narrendera fined $5,392 and their company $648 for a string of infringements. 

The Victorian driver who claimed to have lost their work diary was found to have two diaries, containing errors and fatigue breaches, along with a speed evasion device in the truck. The non-compliant vehicle was grounded, a mechanic had to rectify the non-compliance, and the driver was fined and docked nine demerit points. The company was issued a defect notice, and was fined for permitting use of a heavy vehicle with non-compliant speed limiter.

Other cases included:

  • At the Chinderah RMS heavy vehicle inspection station, a driver from Nanango in Queensland transporting bananas to Sydney markets tested positive to methylamphetamine. The work diary was found with errors, the prime mover was unregistered, "ghost" covers were fitted to the front and rear number plates, and a speed tampering device was found. The driver was charged for the offences, while the company received an infringement notice for permitting use of an unregistered Class C vehicle
  • Also at Chinderah, a Victorian-registered truck loaded with cardboard from Logan (Qld) to Sydney, had an engine control module download reveal non-compliance as the vehicle was capable of travelling speeds up to 127.4km/h. The heavy vehicle was defected for immediate rectification, and the driver and company received a penalty notice for "use of heavy vehicle/contravene speed limiter standard"
  • At Botany Road, Port Botany, during Operation Interceptor the driver of a B-double with two fully laden trailers containing plastic resin returned a breath-test reading of 0.132. His licence was confiscated and suspended and issued a court attendance notice.

"NSW Police continues to focus on heavy vehicle safety and compliance in order to minimise risk on our roads," Brooks tells ATN.

"With heavy vehicle fatal crashes currently at 46, and related deaths at 29, being 16 crashes and 29 deaths less than the previous 12 months, this is an indicator that our enforcement and engagement with industry is leading to a decline in these sad and tragic events. 

"With over 190,000 trucks registered in NSW, and 400,000 passing throughout our state every day, the rate of serious non-compliance is very low, however, we are there to ensure that industry standards are maintained at a high level. 

"Through our partnerships with stakeholders such as the Australian Trucking Association [ATA], it is pleasing to see first hand what industry is doing every day, to ensure the safety of those not only in the logistics chain, but those that use the NSW road network."

Industry response

ATA CEO Ben Maguire was critical of the mainstream coverage, which said the blitz revealed "alarming discoveries".

"Truckies will warn sometimes each other if there is an operation like this ahead so that drivers doing the wrong thing can pull over before they’re caught. But because this is running for 48 hours, they most likely won’t have time to wait it out," a news reporter mentioned, while one of the drivers was quoted as saying: "There are a lot of cowboys still out there, but it’s getting squeezed out."

Commenting on LinkedIn, Maguire says: "Looks like some good work there by the Police and RMS with 100 personnel across all major routes in the state. The key is that it was maintained for a sustained period to make sure of good coverage.

"’Do the right thing and you've got nothing to worry about,’ as one driver in the bulletin said.

"It's mischievous for the media to cite the results as alarming … the stats quoted 5 out of 1,200 drivers tested positive for drugs. Obviously one positive result is too many, but the statistic shows 99.6% of drivers did not test positive … hardly alarming. The media needs to get some balance here.

"The one in twenty trucks infringed is more worthy of concern, as it shows 5% of trucks had an issue. Again that's 95% doing a good job but clearly there's some work to do yet."


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