THE recent actions by the NSW Police and RMS in conjunction with the enforcement agencies of other states has had the desired effect on the industry in relation to speed limiters.
Many operators have heeded the warning, checking the compliance of the speed limiters on fleet vehicles and, if needed, resetting them at 100km/h as per the requirements of ADR 65.
In some cases this has met with mixed reactions, one driver telling his boss it was "unethical" to reduce the limited speed!
Herein lies the problem - the message is not getting through to some. This couldn't have been driven home any better than the recent episode of A Current Affair with an individual posting a video of himself doing a 150km/h off a hill and bragging to his mates.
Why anybody wants to put the lives of themselves and others at danger by pulling such a stunt is beyond belief. One small mistake, one mechanical failure and the destructive force of a fully laden semi at that ridiculous speed on a car, bus or any other structure would be devastating.
You only have to watch the excepts of that video to realise he wasn't speeding because of money, schedules or other pressures constantly cited as excuses for drivers to break the law. He was speeding to be a show off, to be an idiot! He was the person in control of that vehicle. He was the person that made the decision to break the law and place himself and others in danger. At some point this buck-passing has to stop.
I like most believe in driver or mechanical errors and there should always be a tolerance to accommodate this, but heavy vehicles travelling in excess of 115km/h should not be tolerated,
The maximum speed limit for a heavy vehicle is 100km/h, not 101 or 103, some have argued that you need 105 or more to overtake safely. That argument would hold some credence if many had been able to exercise constraint and not abuse the leeway the authorities had allowed. Every day trucks limited to 100km/h are getting by without being involved in accidents.
NSW had previously tried to address excessive speed with the "3 strike" policy but it was ineffective and became muddled in its application partly because it only targeted vehicle owners and not others in the chain of responsibility.
If the industry is serious about addressing excessive speed, it's time we recommend increases in penalties and sanctions to the authorities.
To be fair, the industry can't take all the blame. An equally large share must be levelled at the authorities who have failed to enforce and uphold the laws they initially implemented over 20 years ago as a reaction to the infamous bus crashes.
Failure to enforce ADR 65 and other laws relating to heavy vehicle speed has allowed the problem to fester. The authorities had 20 years to implement a generational change in attitude to speed, an opportunity squandered.
A return to a heavy vehicle speed limit of 90km/h has been mentioned. Several companies, notably Simon National Carriers have had a self-imposed lower speed limit for years and others are voluntarily following this trend.
The word NO is sometimes the hardest word in the English language to say, but drivers and operators should learn to exercise it if they are asked to perform tasks that force them to operate outside of the law and adopt unsafe practices.
Drivers who have changed their driving habits or who have always obeyed the law should be congratulated.