Menu
News

OPINION: The lights might be on, but nobody is home

Truck, highway generic , heavy vehicle
Truck, highway generic , heavy vehicle Kirstin Payne

THE sharp rise of deaths involving heavy vehicles on the state's roads can be attributed to the NSW Government's decision not to fill 34 vacant Compliance Operation Inspector (COI) positions in RMS, including the "re-purposing" of seven COI positions in 2016 to non-frontline roles within the agency.

The 34 fewer Compliance Operation Inspectors throughout NSW mean enforcement activities are dramatically reduced either at random roadside inspection sites or the non-staffing of the state's eight Heavy Vehicle Safety Stations.

The Public Service Association (PSA) is enormously concerned that this exposes all road users, including heavy vehicles drivers themselves, to enormous risk.

Trucking companies are fully aware of this lack of critical oversight.

They know very well their drivers are unlikely to be stopped to ensure they hold a current licence, to check their vehicle is registered and roadworthy, that the driver has taken the necessary rest breaks and not been speeding, and that the vehicle is not overweight and the load correctly restrained.

The scenario created by this critical lack of expert oversight is the stuff of nightmares: heavy vehicles up to 62.5 tonnes, and in some cases more, barrelling down state and federal highways at high speed in an un-roadworthy, unsecured condition driven by an under pressure fatigued driver.

Little wonder we have seen catastrophic accidents in our roads in just the first few weeks of 2018.

But without expert oversight and enforcement by heavy vehicle inspectors, how are truck drivers to be aware of any potential issues with their rigs?

The PSA has also been alerted to the fact a number of Safe-T-Cam cameras are not working throughout the state due to funding cuts and which further reduces detection of fatigue and speeding.

Consequently, once intercepted, the Compliance Operation Inspector cannot identify if the driver's work diary is a true and accurate record as Safe-T-Cam data which identifies times and locations of the vehicle throughout the state are unable to be obtained to cross reference against the work diary.

With the non-filling of these vacant heavy vehicle inspector positions, some locations are dropping shifts, leaving sites un-manned or in some cases having inspectors work in other regions to pick up the shortfall, thus leaving giant holes for heavy vehicles to literally drive through.

Further, non-complying heavy vehicles are driving through screening lanes at Safety Stations but due to lack of staff, are diverted back onto the highway to continue their journey; another accident potentially waiting to happen.

The PSA's greatest concern however is the NSW Government is moving to offload this critical community safety function to the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) and wipe its hands of all responsibility for this facet of road safety.

The transition to the NHVR has been shrouded in secrecy and could mean a further reduction in oversight with RMS cutting the current Compliance Operation Section to a bare minimum in preparation for the move.

Soon it seems we will all be travelling on highways to hell, all thanks to the NSW Government.

Topics:  heavy vehicles opinion public service association of nsw trucking industry

Big Rigs

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.