I HAVE been witness recently to several drivers having a run-in with the NSW authorities over a breach of the permit conditions that their vehicle is operating under.
This usually has been for breaches of the Class 1 Load Carrying Vehicles 2012 Over-dimensional permit and also the Class 2 B-Double Notice.
Vehicles that are road registered must fit within the constraints of a set box of parameters to operate legally, but once a vehicle exceeds the dimensions or mass of that box then vehicles may be allowed to operate under a relevant permit which will contain and list the requirements and movement restrictions that any vehicle operating under the permit must comply to.
Failure to comply with these conditions can end up with drivers being slapped with a hefty fine, which in NSW is now listed as being $1191 for breaches such as being off-route or operating outside of the permitted hours of operation.
NSW has always had a complicated way of writing their permits, listing a large number of individual restrictions for different areas or roads and if not read properly will often appear to contradict itself as opposed to the other states that have very simplified permits and conditions of operations.
This can be a catch for drivers as the permit conditions are different for every state and it is the responsibility of the driver and the operator to be familiar with the conditions stated in the permit that they are operating under. Ignorance will not be accepted as an excuse.
There are too many facets of the permit system to talk about here, but I want to mention a couple of common traps for drivers as well as some recent changes to the NSW permits.
The most common one that I often see on the roads in NSW is drivers travelling with wide loads at night.
As a rule drivers need to realise there is no travel for wide loads after dark in NSW at all and there never has been.
It is the responsibility of the driver to ensure his vehicle is off the road by sunset and cannot recommence travelling until sunrise the next morning as one driver at Albury I witnessed recently would have learnt after arriving at the BP at 9pm with one of the state's finest following him very closely with the angry lights going. It would have been an expensive lesson.
Having said that there is no travel of a night-time for wide loads. Night-time travel is allowed through certain areas like the Sydney metropolitan area with the use of pilot vehicles at certain times.
Drivers and operators need to check the permit they are operating under for times of travel and other requirements.
What is a recent change though with the new NSW over-dimensional permits is that there are new restrictions on wide loads travelling on the north coast of NSW, including restrictions on travel at peak times on the Kempsey Bridge, Macksville Bridge, Coffs Harbour City, Grafton Bridge and other areas from 7.30-9.30am and in the afternoon from 3-6pm most weekdays if a vehicle is wider than 2.5m wide, but this restriction does not apply to long- only loads. But again I stress drivers must refer to the relevant permit for the conditions of operation to see if they are able to travel.
If you are transporting a wide load between the Newcastle and Brisbane areas you would now be better advised to use the New England Hwy to avoid these travel restrictions.
Another common breach of permit conditions that catches many B-doubles drivers and causes much confusion is one in my hometown and that is the travel restriction times on the Grafton Bridge (Summerland Way) between the Gwydir Hwy and Duke St.
There is no travel for B-doubles (except 19.0m units at less than 50tons) during the peak travel times of 7.30-9.30am and 3-6pm weekdays and you should refer to the NSW Class 2 B-double Permit Appendix 1, page 82.
If the Pacific Hwy is closed for any reason and traffic must be diverted through the Summerland way these restrictions still apply and cannot be removed.
Keep all this and $1191 in mind.