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'You’ve got to be kidding': $1.2m fine stunned former Scott's boss Peter Anderson
VTA boss says in hindsight his former employer wouldn’t have pleaded guilty to 165 speeding offences.
The former head of Scott’s of Mount Gambier says the company wouldn’t have pleaded guilty to numerous speeding offences in New South Wales if it knew how big the fine was going to be.
In May last year a NSW local court magistrate fined Scott’s Transport Industries around $1.2 million for 165 speeding offences under chain of responsibility law. That penalty was an Australian record at the time.
However, as Owner//Driver revealed, the million dollar-plus penalty was reduced to just $85,000 after the company appealed in the NSW District Court.
In the original case, Scott’s CEO Peter Anderson pleaded guilty to eight speeding offences and was fined $7,500, which the company paid.
Anderson is now CEO of peak trucking body the Victorian Transport Association (VTA).
He tells Owner//Driver he can understand why NSW Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) investigated Scott’s after one of its trucks with a new driver behind the wheel was caught doing 142km/h at the bottom of a hill on the Hume Freeway near Sydney in March 2012.
He says that 142 km/h incident "really shook the RMS and the police and [roads minister] Duncan Gay and they said ‘We’re going to target speeding trucks and trucks out of control,’ and rightfully so".
But when Anderson checked the known speeding offences committed by his drivers for the month before, there were only two.
"In February we had two speeding offences out of nearly 500 interstate line-haul movements a night, so how would anybody think they got a speeding issue within their business?" Anderson asks.
Owner//Driver asked Anderson that considering the successful appeal, does he regret pleading guilty?
"In law it comes down to which is the worst of two evils," Anderson replies.
"I'm not going to tell you how many hundreds of thousands of dollars that this system made Scott’s go through in defence.
"The amount of time that lawyers and barristers and SCs put in to making sure they had the story straight; the amount of interviews; the amount of times we went over and over evidence; the amount of times we had to produce evidence and go through old records.
"It just went on and on and on for two years. It just wears you down, so we get to a point where we say ‘OK, we’ve decided to plead guilty, get this thing out of the way, let’s get on with life’.
"If we’ve got to pay a fine, OK, we’ll put up with the embarrassment, we’ll put up with the slur on the name, but we’ll work our way through it and we’ll come out of it as a better business.
"So we come out the other end and we couldn’t believe the size of the fine. We said ‘You’ve got to be kidding me’. If we knew this was on the table, we wouldn’t have pleaded guilty."
Many of the 165 speeding offences were freeway hill over-runs at less than 110km/h, and were picked up in a NSW RMS audit of the Safe-T-Cam fatigue enforcement system. Scott’s vehicles had only received infringement notices for 15 of the 165 incidents.
"The real issue is the hills themselves," Anderson says.
"Rolling off the backs of hills is from my perspective a serious offence … And we shouldn’t condone it."
click here Incorrect dismissal procedures lead to driver payout
Former Ambrose Haulage driver wins unfair dismissal claim
Exhortations by employment law experts for managers to follow dismissal rules closely are failing to be heard in some quarters of the trucking induxtry.
One of the latest to fall foul is small trucking outfit Ambrose Haulage, which has been ordered to compensate a former truck driver for failing to follow correct procedures when sacking him.
In a lesson to other small businesses, Ambrose Haulage left itself exposed for not complying with the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code.
The code applies to firms with fewer than 15 employees and outlines when dismissals can occur and what a company must do before showing an employee the door.
Ambrose Haulage had 13 employees when it summarily dismissed Martin Cochrane in late 2014, but Fair Work commissioner Chris Simpson found that Cochrane’s actions did not justify the company’s decision.
"I have read all the material submitted by the Applicant [Cochrane] and the Respondent [Ambrose Haulage], and I am satisfied that the conduct of the Applicant did not meet the criteria to justify the summary dismissal in accordance with the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code," Simpson says in his written judgment.
"The Applicant’s conduct was not conduct sufficiently serious to justify immediate dismissal."
Cochrane was awarded $6,016 in compensation.
The Small Business Fair Dismissal Code states an employer can dismiss an employee without warning for serious misconduct like theft, fraud, violence and serious breaches of occupational health and safety procedures.
Ambrose Haulage argued it was within its rights to summarily dismiss Cochrane because of his attitude toward fellow employees and the company’s clients and for not undertaking a shift he was required to work.
However, Simpson says the company did not warn Cochrane his behaviour was unacceptable.
"In the circumstances I cannot be satisfied any of these issues provided a valid reason for termination," Simpson says.
Likewise, he adds that the driver’s failure to perform a shift did not mean Ambrose Haulage could summarily dismiss him.
Simpson says Cochrane sent a text message to Ambrose Haulage director Jamie Ambrose on the night of the shift telling him he was going to bed and that he might not work the following day.
Cochrane sent the message after another driver that was due to handover to him did not make contact.
"Whilst the Applicant should not have reacted to the circumstances as he did, it is the context of being a long distance driver who would reasonably have some expectations about certainty concerning when he will and will not be working, and the failure of the communication system led to frustration on his part," Simpson says.
"In my view it did not provide a valid reason for dismissal. It is clear the Respondent decided to terminate the Applicant when he was not fully apprised of the facts of what happened that night. The Applicant did not fail to attend work as was initially claimed by the Respondent."
Simpson says Cochrane was not told of the reason for his dismissal or given the opportunity to discuss the dismissal — both conditions that must be met under regular dismissal procedures.
He ruled against reinstating Cochrane, saying the relationship between the driver and Ambrose Haulage "was becoming increasingly difficult and unstable".
Mystery surrounds death of WA truck driver in freeway crash
The widow of a West Australian man killed while driving through bad weather has begged authorities to tell her what happened.
Ron Carter died when his the semi-trailer he was driving was involved in a three-car smash on the Kwinana Freeway during heavy smog.
The accident also caused the death of 62-year-old Bentley man Enver Aysa, who was a passenger in a van.
But since the crash Mr Carter's widow Anne has been kept in the dark about exactly what happened.
"I just want him home," Mrs Carter told 9NEWS.
"There's no care, there's no thought, no nothing – I'm angry."
It was hours before Mrs Carter was told of her husband's death, and yesterday she met with officials at Fiona Stanley Hospital to ask "why?".
"I really haven't got anything answered – nothing at all," she said.
"It's like I was pushed to one side."
Major crash investigators are now looking into claims the van that collided with Mr Carter's truck was reversing back up the freeway after missing a turnoff.
There are CCTV cameras in the area, but none captured the crash, while several witnesses are still being interviewed.
Mrs Carter says police have not been in touch with any updates.
"It's alright to say 'you'll get the answers when the inquest comes' – when's the inquest? 12, 18 months? Two years?," she said.
"And I know none of this is going to bring him back, I know that for a fact, but I do not want anybody else going through this."
Search for road rage truckie
Police are on the hunt for a truckie who forced a driver off the road in East Keilor on Wednesday.
Investigators have been told a 48-year-old Hillside man was travelling west in the right-hand lane of the Western Ring Road at around 11.20am when a truck driver began tailgating him.
It's believed the offending driver deliberately rammed the truck into the silver Nissan 4WD three times, forcing it to crash into the centre median strip and into a light pole.
After the crash, the truck driver accelerated rapidly, veering across three lanes and exiting at the Keilor Park drive exit.
The victim was lucky to escape the crash with minor injuries, which were treated at the scene by paramedics.
Police are investigating the incident and are appealing for public information to help identify the truck driver involved.
The truck is described as being a white cab over semi which was towing a plain white trailer.
The incident occurred between the Calder Freeway overpass and the Keilor Park Drive exit.
Anyone with information about the driver or the incident is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential crime report at www.crimestoppersvic.com.au
Research says 25 per cent of fatal heavy vehicle crashes preventable
New research says AEBS would prevent crashes by around 25 per cent.
A quarter of fatal heavy vehicle crashes would be avoided if autonomous emergency braking systems (AEBS) were fitted, new research says.
A report from the Monash University Accident Research Centre, on behalf of the Vehicle Safety Research Group, analysed the benefits of fitting AEBS, electronic stability control (ESC), warning systems and lane departure warning systems in heavy vehicles and found AEBS the most critical.
Heavy vehicle operators have been encouraged by the NRMA Motoring and Services, Centre for Road Safety and RACQ to take note of the benefits of crash avoidance technologies in the wake of the news.
"Of the four technologies assessed, this research found that autonomous emergency braking systems would make the biggest difference, reducing fatal heavy vehicle crashes by around 25 per cent if fitted to all heavy vehicles," NRMA vehicle safety expert Jack Haley says.
"Lane departure warning systems, electronic stability control and fatigue warning systems could also deliver safety benefits, with each of these technologies estimated to prevent around four to six per cent of Australian fatal heavy vehicle crashes, if fitted to all heavy vehicles."
Centre for Road Safety general manager Marg Prendergast has also come out strongly to support the research.
"While a lot of research has investigated the benefits of fitting these kinds of technologies to light vehicles, this is really the first time we’ve had some insight into the real world benefits that could be delivered if they were fitted to all heavy vehicles," Prendergast says.
"We know that heavy trucks are over-represented in serious road trauma in NSW. In 2014, they made up around two per cent of all registered motor vehicles, accounted for around seven per cent of all motor vehicle travel, but were involved in around 17 per cent of all road fatalities."
The statistics are similar in Queensland according to RACQ executive manager technical and safety policy Steve Spalding, who reports 18 per cent of road fatalities in the state last year involved heavy freight vehicles.
"Heavy vehicle fatalities are over-represented and we need to do all we can to reduce the number of serious crashes," Spalding says.
"We are only going to be seeing more heavy vehicles on our roads in the future which risks even more serious or fatal crashes," he explains.
"Truck drivers are working under intense deadlines and are often driving long distances on roads that aren’t always in the best condition. By choosing vehicles with the latest safety technology, the industry can help make their jobs safer."
In a Fatal Heavy Vehicle Crashes report released in April, the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development confirmed 200 people were killed in 174 fatal crashes involving heavy trucks around Australia last year.
While the report says fatal crashes including articulated trucks decreased by an average of 9.3 per cent over the previous three years, 2014 saw a 12.4 per cent increase on 2013.
Heavy rigid trucks crashes also rose in 2014, an increase of 18.8 per cent when compared to 2013, but have also risen over the three years previous by an average of 4.2 per cent per year.
Fitness for truck drivers—it's possible
Ironically, for workers who are always on-the-go and keep Australia running, truck drivers end up very sedentary. And it comes at a cost to their personal health.
Two new fitness programs—one in the US and one in Australia—combine new technology with simple strategies to improve the health of truck drivers.
We also want to hear about your experiences behind the wheel. What’s it like to juggle health and fitness when you’re a truckie? How do you make the most of short breaks? Is there a routine before and after work that helps you keep fit?
Wattleup fatal: Crash between truck, car in Perth’s south
A TRUCK driver has died and an injured elderly couple were rushed to hospital after a crash south of Perth on Thursday afternoon.
The crash between the truck and a car happened at the intersection of Wattleup Road and Moylan Road in Wattleup around 1.30pm.
One person, believed to be the truck driver, died at the scene. The couple in the car, believed to be in their 80s, suffered non life-threatening injuries.
The elderly driver of the car was taken to Royal Perth Hospital, while his female passenger was rushed to Fiona Stanley Hospital under priority.
Motorists are warned that Wattleup Road in both directions from Deepdene Road to Postans Road remains closed due to the crash.
Truck manufacturers want aftermarket parts supply regulated
Truck Industry Council warns of ‘very dangerous situation’ unless supply of aftermarket parts is regulated.
The body representing Australia’s truck manufacturers wants tighter controls on the supply of aftermarket parts to the trucking industry.
The Truck Industry Council (TIC) says an international regulation governing standards for truck replacement brake parts in Europe should be adopted in Australia.
TIC chief technical officer Mark Hammond says the use of unregulated aftermarket parts is rife throughout the trucking industry in Australia, raising the concerns about the roadworthiness of vehicles.
"Currently no federal or state regulations or laws exist for the supply to market of aftermarket spare parts. The use of unregulated spare parts, particularly safety-critical brake, steering and suspension parts is widespread in the heavy vehicle industry," Hammond says.
"Quite simply without controls on the parts used to repair and maintain heavy vehicle vehicles, roadworthiness cannot be assured.
"In fact, the performance level of these unregulated parts means that the level of roadworthiness of a heavy vehicle is unknown. This is a potentially very dangerous situation."
The regulation the TIC wants introduced in Australia is known as UN-ECE Regulation 90, which sets out provisions that must be met when using replacement brake pads and linings.
The regulation also stipulates the performance of the replacement part must be within 15 per cent of the original part.
"The Truck Industry Council requests that safety-critical heavy vehicle aftermarket spare parts are subject to the same requirements as those in Europe and that UN-ECE Regulation 90 for brake components, or similar, is adopted in Australia," Hammond says.
He made the comments in a written response to the National Transport Commission’s (NTC) review of heavy vehicle roadworthiness standards.
The review, which is currently receiving submissions, proposes a number of options to improve heavy vehicle roadworthiness in Australia, including a national system and a risk-based approach.
Hammond says the TIC has always supported mandatory annual inspections and that they should be part of any national scheme until it can be proven that risk-based inspections can deliver the safety outcomes required.
Two crushed to death by falling timber inside a shipping container at Wetherill Park
TWO men were crushed to death and one was seriously injured as they unloaded a shipping container at an industrial estate in Sydney’s south west this morning.
Workers at the neighbouring trucking business desperately tried to pull the tonnes of timber refrigeration panelling off the men at the Westruck Truck Bodybuilders site on Victoria St, Wetherill Park about 11.15am.
One man pinned up against a wall was able to be freed who paramedics then rushed to Fairfield Hospital in a serious condition.
The bodies of the two men remained at the site as WorkCover, police and fire fighters carried out investigations.
Nationwide Cold Storage owner Anthony Degioia said eight of his workers raced to the container after screams were heard coming from inside.
“My people came out and saved the life of one of them,” Mr Degioia said.
“Eight people came out and tried to save them but sadly two of them didn’t make it.
“A woman coming in heard the screaming coming from inside the container and came in and told us.”
Mr Degioia said the survivor was able to speak with them as they frantically tried to relieve the weight of timber pressing him against the wall.
“One of them was pinned against the wall with the timber on him and they got the timber off him and he survived,” Mr Degioia said.
“He was conscious and talking and all he said was he was struggling to breathe and he needed water.
“The other guy was pinned face against the wall and one guy was underneath, you couldn’t see him.”
He said it had been traumatic for everyone involved.
“This has been a really tough day for my workers,” Mr Degioia said.
“You never think it’s going to happen to your business and even though it didn’t it was right next door.”
Westruck have been approached for comment.
A truck driver with 42 years experience who declined to give his name said the men were unloading refrigeration panelling used to build trucks with.
“This place is a truck-body building site, they were fridge van panels before they make them (trucks) and somehow they fell on them when they were pulling them out,” he said.
“I didn’t know them. You come here as a truck driver and you get to know people by sight but that’s it. It’s a freak accident.”
The driver said the panels were made overseas and shipped in to Australia.
He said unbalanced containers used to be common decades ago, but steps to balance them meant similar accidents were rare.
“Trucks used to have containers and they’d fall over all the time as they were driving, that’s stopped,” he said.
“They used to only pack half and stuff inside would move but now they put in big airbags to balance.”
While the area has been sealed off with police tape, trucks are still coming and going from the site.
Truck loaded with chickens rolls over on Port Wakefield Road, north of Adelaide
A truck carrying thousands of chickens has rolled on Port Wakefield Road near Lower Light, north of Adelaide.
The accident happened about 6:30am between Dublin and Lower Light and delayed traffic in the area.
The truck driver was injured but her condition is not considered life threatening.
Animal welfare officers have gone to the scene to deal with about 3,500 chickens from the truck, many of which are now running free or injured from the accident.
A southbound lane of Port Wakefield Road will remain closed to traffic until the scene is cleared.
Driver flees burning truck on Perth's Tonkin Highway
A driver fled the cabin of his truck after it caught fire on Tonkin Highway in the Perth suburb of Oakford last night.
The driver of the tip-truck noticed smoke coming from the cabin about 7:00pm, before it burst into flames.
The truck was completely consumed in the blaze, believed to have been caused by an electrical fault.
Damaged has been estimated at $200,000.
Meanwhile, a fire caused $450,000 damage to a factory unit in the Perth suburb of Osborne Park.
Firefighters were called to the unit on Baden Street just after 10:00pm.
It took four units more than 20 minutes to control the blaze.
Investigations into the cause of that fire are continuing
Female truckie allegedly behind the wheel after smoking meth
A TRUCKIE has had her licence suspended and may face further charges after she was allegedly caught driving after smoking methamphetamine.
Maryborough police stopped the driver they received a tip-off that she was allegedly seen smoking a substance from a glass pipe on Thursday night near Childers.
Maryborough police Acting Sergeant Matt Walker said he believed witnesses had tried to take the woman's keys from her to prevent her from driving, but she got in her vehicle and started driving south from the stop at Apple Tree Creek.
The driver was stopped at 6.35pm and a search was conducted of her truck.
Police said a glass pipe was found.
The driver's saliva allegedly tested positive for methamphetamine and she was taken to hospital where her blood was tested and has since been sent away to get a more detailed reading.
The driver was given a 24 hours suspension of her licence and police are now waiting to get the results from Queensland Health to determine if other charges may be applicable.
Acting Sergeant Walker said he understood the driver had to contact the company she drives for and they had to send another driver to continue transporting the cargo.
The truck's cargo was unknown.
Angellala Creek bridge replacement fast-tracked
Queensland Premier says she is keen to have the key south-western freight route operating again
Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says the state government is moving quickly ahead on a project to replace the Angellala Creek bridge on the Mitchell Highway.
Ormeau-based builder Davbridge Constructions has won the $10 million tender to rebuild the critical bridge, destroyed when a truck carrying ammonium nitrate exploded there in September last year.
The contract includes $4 million for reconstruction of the bridge, as well as further funds for the construction of a temporary side track, already built.
"I’m pleased to announce that work to rebuild a permanent link will start less than a year after the explosion that shut down this crucial transport corridor," Palaszczuk says.
With the bridge out of action, heavy vehicles have been forced to detour up to 550km through Roma, St George, and Cunnamulla.
At 9.2 metres, the new bridge will be widerthan the previous structure, and will also be one metre higher. This will bring the construction up to current engineering and flood prevention standards.
The first construction work is due to begin next month, with the full project to be finished before December this year.
Man trapped in truck for more than an hour after rollover at Warren Rd, Birdwood
A MAN driving a truck carrying a large load of sand was trapped in the cabin for more than an hour when the rig rolled at Birdwood.
The truck rolled on Warren Rd just after 10am on Wednesday, spreading a large amount of sand along the side of the road.
A man driving the truck was stuck in the cabin for more than an hour while emergency services worked to free him.
He was eventually freed and taken by helicopter to the Royal Adelaide Hospital with an arm injury.
Paccar to unveil three DAF models at Brisbane Truck Show
Wow-factor to be high with Clash Kenworth also to feature
Paccar will use the 2015 Brisbane Truck Show in May to launch the FAD XF105 as well as the new DAF LF45 and LF55 models.
The company will have three cut cab displays, 12 trucks and representatives from across Australia and New Zealand at the show but the headline will be the addition to DAF’s flagship XF105 Australian range with the DAF FADXF105.
Paccar Australia marketing manager Neil Willox believes the DAF XF105 will be a "must see" for show attendees to experience the truck’s walk-in cab and better appreciate the space, quality, comfort and convenience of its cab, with 210cm standing room.
"DAF will also launch the new LF45 and LF55 with enhanced cab and chassis, featuring the latest in safety and comfort; plus an assortment of rigid and prime mover trucks from the class-leading CF series," Willox says.
The new trucks will be joined by three existing DAF models, the FAPCF75, FTTCF85 and FTT XF105.
Kenworth’s flagship K200 (one half of our Clash of the Titans series) with Active Cab Entry, and the T4 series with Paccar’s MX-13 engine and optimised AMT, will be amongst six Kenworth models on display at the show.
For transport operators, DAF Trucks Australia general manager Robert Griffin says there will be a range of representatives to answer questions.
"In conjunction with our legendary sales and aftersales support teams, including Paccar finance, parts and representatives from our extensive dealer network, operators can expect expert advice to help them find the best solution for their business needs," Griffin says.
The Brisbane Truck Show begins on May 14.