Down Under Trucking: Oops! Bayswater Bridge claims another victim

A bridge in the eastern suburbs of Perth, Western Australia, is notorious for causing trucks to get stuck. For some reason, truck drivers repeatedly misjudge the 3.8 meter (12.47 foot) clearance of the bridge. Nobody knows why. It’s not like the air gap of the bridge is a secret (see picture).

The Bayswater Bridge is now so notorious and infamous, it even has its own website. Read more at the appropriately URL’d…

When this latest Border Express truck got stuck a few days ago it created an amused reaction on Twitter.

“There really should be a sign to say that it’s low clearance and only 3.8m high…” wrote Twitter user Glenn Horne.

User Rodney Ding queried “If only there was a way to know how low the bridge is????”

It’s a good question.

Meanwhile, the interestingly handled “Townclown5” opted for a pun focused on the branding of the truck.

“Who said borders are just lines on maps?”

They’re not a very sympathetic bunch of people these Australians.

Putting the jokers to one side, there’s something about the low clearance of this bridge that just doesn’t seem to register with truck drivers, as the montage below makes clear.

And, believe it or not, these all happened in roughly the last 12 months:

Some of the differing types of trucks that have all got stuck under the Bayswater Bridge in Perth, Western Australia, over the last 12 months. Do the drivers not bother reading road signs? Photos: various, supplied.

A$10 million (US$7 million) to upgrade road freight routes

Staying in Western Australia, the state government has just announced that it will chip in A$10 million (US$7 million) to help improve the “Commodity Freight Routes.” Road-freighted grain and livestock transport will benefit from widened and lengthened roads.

What price for a truck driver’s life? About A$59k (US$41k)

Trucking company director Peter Fife was fined A$88,000 and ordered to pay A$30,000 of legal costs by Sydney Local Court after being found guilty of 24 charges related to a fiery truck crash. Truck drivers Adrian Ryan, 32, and Michael Gorman, 39, both died.

Ryan was driving a B-Double and Gorman was driving a car carrier. The trucks collided just north of an intersection. Ryan was flung from the truck and Gorman was found inside his burnt-out truck. Both men died at the scene.

A variety of workplace health and safety charges relating to driver fatigue and breaches for the “chain of responsibility” laws were laid against the trucking company A. Fife & Co and director Peter Fife.

Trucks provide critical lifeline to inland town

The burning out of a supermarket is certainly an unfortunate incident wherever you may go in the world. But, in Australia, it can potentially sound the death-knell for a regional town. And that’s what nearly happened to the remote town of Walgett, about 316 miles northwest of Sydney.

Let’s put this in perspective. Excluding enclaves, exclaves and non-contiguous territories, Australia and the U.S. have somewhat similar sized continental landmasses. But the U.S. has a population of 327.2 million and Australia… not so many. More like 24.6 million. That means Australia is comparatively empty.

So when the IGA supermarket burned down in Walgett, well, there was nowhere local to buy the most basic groceries. The nearest supermarket is a good 47-50 miles away at Lightning Ridge.

Not exactly what might be termed ‘nearby’.

A prominent Sydney-based homelessness activist heard of the town’s plight and has organized a trucking service to bring groceries to residents. Lanz Priestly teamed his activist group “Fighting in Resistance Equally” with Australian supermarket major, Coles. Residents can now order supplies online from Coles’ nearest supermarket at Narrabri, 115 miles away. Priestly’s truck will then haul the groceries en mass to Walgett where either residents can collect their supplies or community groups will collect and deliver to people who cannot pick up groceries.

It is hoped that the trucking arrangements will keep the town going until a replacement supermarket can be built.

Horror week of crashes and a runaway trailer

It’s been yet another dreadful week on Australia’s road network. A 34-year old truck driver in Victoria, had his legs crushed in a road-smash. Two cars, the truck and an ambulance were caught up in the smash. Sadly, the truck rear-ended another vehicle and the truck driver’s legs were crushed in the impact. He was trapped for 40 minutes before fire-fighters freed him so that he could be taken to hospital.

Over in Western Australia, a man has died after his commercial delivery van was crushed in a side-on hit from a truck at 06:30am. On-site police confirmed that the delivery van driver was dead. The driver of the truck was not injured.

Again, in Western Australia, there was another fatality. A truck driver died after the vehicle crashed near the town of Port Hedland. Police have not identified the driver nor released any details of the incident.

A 52-year old truck driver was confirmed dead by local police after his truck and trailer crashed at Colbinabbin in the Australian state of Victoria. The heavy freight vehicle was traveling in a westward direction when it left the road for an unknown reason at about 13:40. The truck crashed into trees, rolled-over and caught fire.

In the coastal area of Brunswick, Western Australia, residents suffered a power blackout yesterday. A truck towing an empty log-carrying trailer slowly crossed the road and hit a power pole on the South Western Highway at 07:45am. Local police said the driver was not injured. Power was restored about an hour and 45 minutes later. The truck driver escaped without injury.

It was a particularly scary drive on one of Melbourne’s busiest roads last week when a trailer, carrying about ten metric tons (11 U.S. tons) of clay, somehow detached itself from the prime mover.

The trailer rolled down the road at speed by itself for many hundreds of feet before hitting a concrete barrier, overturning and spilling its cargo. The full story with, frankly terrifying, video can be found at the website of 9News.

Drayage hauliers get over-mass exemption

Some good news for local trucking operators running the drayage trade out of Port Botany, the second biggest marine box terminal operation in Australia.

Regulators and local councils have agreed to allow over-mass heavy vehicles carrying freight containers to operate at over 20 percent of the general mass rules.

“This concession only applies when transporting standard shipping containers from an approved Stevedore Terminal to an approved Container Freight Station along an approved route,” reports local trucking industry trade association, Road Freight NSW, which adds that compliance with a variety of conditions is also required.

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Jim Wilson, Australia Correspondent

Sydney-based journalist and photojournalist, Jim Wilson, is the Australia Correspondent for FreightWaves. Since beginning his journalism career in 2000, Jim has primarily worked as a business reporter, editor, and manager for maritime publications in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia. He has won several awards for logistics-related journalism and has had photography published in the global maritime press. Jim has also run publications focused on human resources management, workplace health and safety, venture capital, and law. He holds a degree in law and legal practice.

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