Fatalities on NSW roads prompt heavy-vehicle crackdown
26 drivers tested positive for drugs during Operation Rolling Thunder, which was organised on 1 February 2018 by NSW Police with the assistance of NSW Roads & Maritime Services, and Victorian, Queensland, ACT and South Australian Police Forces.
Focusing on heavy vehicle safety and compliance, the operation was in direct response to a two-day period from Monday 15 January to Tuesday 16 January in which three unrelated heavy vehicle crashes in NSW at Jackadgery, Cooranbong and Brocklehurst resulted in the deaths of five people.
During the operation, police from all states and RMS inspectors combined:
- stopped and inspected more than 5000 heavy vehicles;
- issued more than 2000 defect notices for a range of offences;
- tested 1752 drivers for drugs, with 26 returning positive drug tests.
Commander of NSW Police Traffic & Highway Patrol Command Assistant Commissioner Michael Corboy said the sheer number of defects and the number of drivers testing positive for drugs shows that there are still too many dangerous trucks on our roads.
“While many trucking companies and drivers are doing the right thing and operating under the right processes, these results show that there are still too many dangerous trucks and dangerous drivers on our roads.
“We will be following up with companies, drivers and operators who think they are above the law and we won’t stop until we can be sure that all trucks on our roads are safe for all road users,” Assistant Commissioner Corboy said.
Call for attention on drivers and roads
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has plans to introduce lower speed limits and begin a crackdown on drink- and drug-affected driving and driver distraction.
New South Wales’ organisation for local government engineers is supportive of the state government’s bid to impose stricter rules on speeding and impaired driving offences.
“The recent spike and the continuing rise in road toll is appalling and it is about time we implement stricter rules on distracted driving as well as impaired driving of any degree. There should be no distinction among impaired drivers. Any person who has had a drink or has taken any form of medication that can render them incapable of properly handling a vehicle and yet knowingly decides to get behind the wheel anyway, should be held accountable,” said John Roydhouse, CEO of IPWEA (NSW).
However, it must be noted that “strict laws alone are not enough to deter road users from risky behaviour”, he added. “We must make sure that these laws are rigorously enforced and there must be continuous education aimed at generating awareness of the consequences of violating the law.”
IPWEA NSW welcome these measures that target driver behaviour. However, the organisation also stresses that the state government must also continue to look into other aspects of promoting road safety such as addressing the underfunding of basic road resurfacing and renewal works which is contributing to worsening road safety outcomes as evidenced by the increasing road toll on local and regional roads. The organisation notes with concern the increasing proportion of fatal and injury accidents on local and regional roads with two-thirds of fatal accidents now occurring on roads under the care of NSW councils.
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