HEAVY vehicle “cowboy operators” and rogue truck drivers have been targeted in a one-day blitz, with police warning their time is up.
Operation Rolling Thunder – Australia’s biggest ever heavy vehicle crackdown – saw hundreds of trucks stopped on the New England Highway near Willow Tree on Thursday as part of a massive safety crackdown.
Several Oxley highway patrol officers, together with specialist officers from the Joint Traffic Taskforce (JTTF) in Sydney and RMS inspectors, stopped every truck headed north or south at Kankool, south of Willow Tree.
The Leader was there as police defected eight vehicles and issued 30 infringement notices for offences like breaching minimum rest rules, overweight loads and log book offences.
Several trucks had their speed computers downloaded to determine if they had been tampered with to allow them to exceed the 100km/h limit. Officers conducted 250 RBTs and 50 roadside drug tests, with two drivers testing positive to methamphetamine.
“It’s quite astonishing that people are still driving around with drugs in their system,” Sergeant Michael Buko said.
He said the days of cowboy operators who think “they can get away with it” are gone.
“We make no apologies for trucks that are defected and drivers who are taken off the road,” he said, adding police were homing in on several local companies.
“The days where ‘she’ll be right’ are gone.
“So companies and drivers be warned, make sure your heavy vehicles are 100 per cent compliant or you won’t be driving.
“We won’t hesitate to take dangerous heavy vehicles and drivers off the roads.
“We will carry out ongoing operations without notice and the emphasis is to make sure our own backyard is clean.”
Drivers were slapped with fines for working too long hours and not taking the required seven-hour break in a 24-hour period.
While drivers also felt the wrath of police, with one woman stopped travelling more than 100km per hour in the 70km zone at the police check point.
The operation was sparked after five people were killed in January in three heavy vehicle crashes in two days including one at Jackadgery, near Glen Innes.
Chair of the Australian Trucking Association Geoff Crouch said the number of deaths in NSW from crashes involving semi-trailers “increased dramatically” but he said the majority of fatal multi-vehicle crashes involving trucks were not the driver’s fault.
“Truck compliance operations cannot possibly prevent these crashes, so governments need to take a broader, long term approach to safety as well as supporting police blitzes,” Chair of the Australian Trucking Association Geoff Crouch said