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Repeat rogues targeted by tech

SO many highlights at the ATA's technology and maintenance conference in Melbourne last month.

If you haven't ever had a chance to go along, I implore you to put next year's event in the diary.

For me one of the standouts was hearing Russell Greenland, manager of Metro Melbourne Transport, safety services for VicRoads, spell out what his team of inspectors are up against.

With an estimated 47.3 million heavy vehicle trips around the state a year, his 35 inspectors face a losing battle by taking a random approach to catching the 2% of operators who flatly refuse to abide by the law.

Punch those numbers into the calculator and your chances of being intercepted in Victoria are once in every 6.5 years, and your chances of being ticketed? Once in every 8.4 years.

As Russell said, randomly pulling over trucks as a way to manage compliance just doesn't work. It was also an eye-opener to hear how costly process is.

He revealed that a typical prosecution costs the state around $10,000, even more if its contested.

When the top fine is only in the region of $6,000 that's not a great return, more so when you hear that many of those that Russell and his team go after routinely fold up the company to avoid the fine, only to re-emerge a short time later trading under a new name.

It was also fascinating - and disappointing - to hear that another 18% of heavy vehicle users are watching to see how VicRoads treats the top 2% offenders.

If they don't come down hard, those on the fringe will soon join those lawless ranks in the hope of gaining a commercial advantage.

It made me think of how much simpler and less stressful the days of driving must have been for Australia's oldest driver, 95-year-old Peter Ward, who I also had the privilege of meeting while in Melbourne for the TMC.

Check out his profile on page 22.

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