It has been a dramatic week in Australian trucking. A truck driver has been jailed for being high – both metaphorically AND literally – during in a big truck crash. There was the tragic case of a strip club driver dying in a head-on crash with a truck. And then there was the curious incident of the cattle hoofing it down a main motorway in Melbourne. On the positive front, a massive inspection campaign has found the vast majority of Australian truckers are legally compliant.
Nine months in jail for sky-high trucker
Trucker Minh Thien Ho, 30, has been handed a jail term of nine months by Wollongong Local Court, domestic media reported, after he drove his 27.6-ton truck (U.S. short tons) through concrete barriers, power poles, parked cars and several fences.
The truck briefly became airborne after it hit the concrete barrier before crashing into cars on the other side of the road. Ho struggled free from the wreckage before the truck burst into flames.
Ho reportedly admitted to the court that he was high on methylamphetamine (“ice”) on the day of the crash. A blood sample had already shown that he was impaired by the consumption of the illegal drug.
A local witness claimed that, if the concrete barrier had not been there, the truck would have crashed into some nearby houses.
Beefing up northern Australian roads
Australia’s infrastructure programme continues apace with news that 11 miles of remote roads between the small towns of Clermont and Alpha in northern Australia have been sealed.
It was a US$5.9 million project undertaken to help the cattle and cattle hauling industries. Sealing roads is generally beneficial for trucks and truckers as it reduces wear and tear on the truck, means that the driver isn’t thrown around so much in the cab, allows rigs to go faster, prevents trucks from getting bogged down in wet weather and generally boosts safety too.
Road sealing helps cattle specifically by reducing livestock stress, cutting road dust and helping to prevent dehydration (as cattle get to watering stations faster).
Deputy Prime Minister and Federal Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack commented, “We understand primary producers face real challenges with transporting cattle to market, which is why the $100 million Beef Roads Program was established. By providing targeted upgrades to key routes, we are alleviating some of those pressures and securing the future success of an important industry.”
The last stretch of the road was completed last month.
Trucker killed after truck rolled over him
A truck driver, who has not yet been named, died in the rural area near Bena, Victoria, at 10:30 a.m. Oct. 7.
Police reportedly believe he got out to inspect underneath his truck. But the vehicle moved and crushed him to death.
Visy Industries Australia joins Australian Trucking Association’s technical council
Packaging and recycling company Visy Industries Australia has joined the Industry Technical Council of the Australian Trucking Association.
The technical council was set up to help boost safety in the trucking industry by giving expert technical advice to the ATA.
Sean Richards, executive general manager of Visy Logistics, said, “Visy Industries is committed to the safe movement of freight on Australian roads, and being a member of the Industry Technical Council allows us to develop best practice solutions for our business while connecting with the most knowledgeable people in the road freight industry.”
Huge beer cargo spilled
Boxes and boxes of beer have been spilled all over the Pacific Highway near Glenthorne, about 152 miles to the north west of Sydney.
Details of the spill have not been made public other than that the driver appears to have somehow lost control and then collided with a nearby embankment.
Happily, no one was hurt in the incident. Tragically, gallons upon gallons of beer have been lost to the dry and dusty road.
McConnell Dowell Constructors wins road building contract
New bridges over the Murray and Campaspe rivers in the southern Australia state of Victoria will be built after a contract was awarded to McConnell Dowell Constructors. Flood relief bridges also will be built.
The company was named as the builder of a new road between the neighboring towns of Echuca in Victoria and Moama, just over the border in the state of New South Wales. It’s a straight-line distance of about three miles, but there are two rivers in the way.
The purpose of the new build is to reduce traffic pressure on the existing Murray River Bridge, which is currently pounded by 25,000 vehicles a day, including 1,500 trucks and heavy freight vehicles.
The new bridge will have a single lane in each direction, meeting traffic demands for 30 years, but has capacity for extra lanes to be added in the future if necessary.
Bull hoofs it down motorway
A steer by the name of Clyde somehow fell off the back of a cattle truck. The poor beast immediately made a bid for freedom by hoofing it down one of the busiest motorways in the city of Melbourne this week. Melbourne is a city with a population of just under 5 million people.
Wildlife experts were summoned to lasso Clyde, who was checked by a vet before being temporarily released into a nearby paddock.
Apparently the owner-operator of the cattle truck has not yet been found. It may be a happy ending for Clyde — it seems he was on the way to the abattoir. But now he is being cared for by volunteers.
Vast majority of inspected trucks are compliant
Police, state transport officials and staff from the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator have inspected 3,553 heavy vehicles over nine days and found that the vast majority, 93.1%, were compliant with their various obligations.
“Importantly, we saw over the course of the operation, the compliance rate increased as word spread about the nature of the operation,” said National Heavy Vehicle Regulator Chief Operations Officer Paul Salvati.
The average inspection time for compliant vehicles was 14.1 minutes, while the average time for noncompliant vehicles was 30.7 minutes, according to the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.
It added that 872 offenses were recorded. These included failures to carry required permits and notices; mechanical safety offenses (31.8%); mass offenses (12.8%); dimension offenses (5.2%); and loading offenses.
Trucking association calls for mandatory advanced brakes
Australian Trucking Association CEO Ben Maguire has called for the Australian federal government to require that all new trucks have advanced brakes.
The ATA said that “autonomous emergency braking” issues a collision warning and then applies the emergency brakes if there is a danger of rear-end collision.
“In conjunction with extending mandatory electronic stability control, or ESC, to new rigid trucks, requiring autonomous emergency braking for all new trucks would save more than a hundred lives and prevent more than 2,500 serious injuries. It’s an incredible safety technology. Making it a requirement for new trucks is one of the ATA’s safety priorities,” Maguire said.
He added that the number of fatal crashes involving semi-trailers and articulated trucks is trending down but that the number of deadly crashes involving rigid trucks is increasing.
“As Australia’s urban population grows and transport infrastructure construction peaks, the number of crashes involving rigid trucks will continue to increase — unless action like this is taken,” Maguire said.
Strip club bus driver killed in head-on crash with truck
A man who was driving a bus bearing the branding of a Melbourne strip club Kittens collided head on with what is reported to be a truck and semi-trailer. The strip club bus driver died.
Paramedics attended the scene of the crash but were unable to save the driver.
The bus was in a more remote area of the state of New South Wales and was heading toward the town of Dubbo, about 440 miles to the north west of Melbourne.
The cause of the crash is under investigation.