Call to RMS on rea­sons be­hind M5 truck crashes

Owner Driver - - The Goods -

Long Haul Driv­ers As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Brian Turpie points to road path is­sues on mo­tor­way

THE RE­AC­TION OF NEW SOUTH WALES au­thor­i­ties to re­cent M5 truck crashes masks is­sues closer to home, truck driv­ers’ ad­vo­cate Brian Turpie states.

The Long Haul Driv­ers As­so­ci­a­tion (LHDA) pres­i­dent has been moved to re­spond to events that saw crashes with the safety bar­rier on the route and the re­sul­tant truck­ing com­pany raids, all of which serves to fur­ther be­smirch the in­dus­try’s name.

In Septem­ber a con­tainer-haul­ing semi-trailer burst into flames af­ter hit­ting the bar­rier at Kings­grove, re­sult­ing in at least 18 hours of traf­fic chaos.

In a wide-rang­ing cri­tique of con­di­tions in ma­jor cities such as Syd­ney and Mel­bourne, Turpie, who is do­ing ur­ban work in Syd­ney, points to a sim­i­lar in­ci­dent in Au­gust say­ing “the chaos en­dured … by the M5 fi­asco, the road net­work be­came grid­locked within an hour and took more than 10 hours to al­le­vi­ate, but did you know that was avoid­able?

“That was the sec­ond truck ac­ci­dent in six weeks at the ex­act same lo­ca­tion and with the ex­act same cause al­though no-one it seems wants to ac­knowl­edge that those two so called ac­ci­dents were caused by the road works on the M5 be­ing poorly ex­e­cuted by the con­trac­tor.”

Turpie notes that when the M5 road­way was re-aligned some months ago, the con­trac­tor in­volved moved the road path to the north, with a se­ries of tight turns to al­low them to use the old road area to do works for the new tun­nels.

“Un­for­tu­nately no one seemed to un­der­stand, nor ap­pre­ci­ate, that this new sec­tion was way too tight for semi­trail­ers and B-dou­bles to ne­go­ti­ate,” he says. “To date it had only been the skill of most heavy ve­hi­cle op­er­a­tors that have avoided tragedy in that area.

“Surely two semi-trail­ers crash­ing into the same bar­rier head­ing in the same di­rec­tion on a re- aligned piece of road that in 15 years pre­vi­ously had never had such an ac­ci­dent would ring alarm bells with en­gi­neers in the RMS [Roads and Mar­itime Ser­vices] and the head con­trac­tor. But no, the au­thor­i­ties have cho­sen to keep quiet about that and in­stead raid the two trans­port com­pa­nies and pur­sue the in­di­vid­ual driv­ers for al­leged neg­li­gent driv­ing.

“I have had an ac­ci­dent-free ca­reer span­ning 42 years and some eight mil­lion kilo­me­tres and I can tell you that a cou­ple of times I have had a scare at that very spot be­cause of the poor align­ment and sud­den kink in the road that can catch you un­aware very eas­ily.

“This will hap­pen again I’m afraid be­cause the prob­lem has not been ac­knowl­edged or ad­dressed with the re­sul­tant con­se­quence.”

In­sist­ing the present road in­fra­struc­ture in the two big­gest cities is dan­ger­ously con­gested due to hav­ing to cope with twice the pop­u­la­tion it is de­signed for, Turpie also takes the RMS to task over mal­func­tion­ing over­height sen­sors that con­trib­ute to grid­lock, lead­ing to truck-driv­ers be­ing blamed.

“Firstly, the over­height ve­hi­cle sen­sor on the War­ringah Free­way has been mal­func­tion­ing for at least two years and it has re­sulted in traf­fic chaos for com­muters and heartache for un­sus­pect­ing truck driv­ers for ab­so­lutely no rea­son at all. I drive a semi-trailer that is 4.22 me­tres high and it of­ten sets off the over­height sen­sor on the south­bound War­ringah Free­way.

“I have con­tacted the RMS on at least five oc­ca­sions to alert them to this prob­lem but to date they have done noth­ing about it. I wrote a let­ter to the mag­is­trate for one driver who was booked for this and could have been fined $2,630 and six de­merit points.

“The NSW road net­work is de­signed to al­low for a max­i­mum heavy ve­hi­cle height of 4.3 me­tres, so our low bridge and tun­nel net­work has lim­its be­tween 4.2 and 4.5 me­tres and un­til 2012 that has worked just fine with only a very rare over­height ve­hi­cle caus­ing prob­lems, how­ever [RMS pre­de­ces­sor] the NSW RTA granted cer­tain op­er­a­tors spe­cial per­mits to op­er­ate 4.6 me­tre ve­hi­cles in NSW.

“There was no com­pelling ar­gu­ment for this in­crease in height other than fi­nan­cial gain to the detri­ment of other op­er­a­tors who still had to re­main within the 4.3 me­tre limit. Surely some­one in the NSW gov­ern­ment or the bu­reau­cracy would have re­alised that this rul­ing could have crit­i­cal im­pli­ca­tions on its road net­work that was set for 4.3 me­tres? Have you no­ticed that the over-height ve­hi­cle prob­lems only started from that date on?”

Turpie in­cludes the Lane Cove and M5 tun­nels as hav­ing overly sen­si­tive sen­sors. RMS re­sponses to the is­sues raised are awaited.

On last month’s fiery crash, po­lice say the truck “started to veer to the right be­fore com­ing into con­tact with a con­crete safety bar­rier”.

Two days later, Traf­fic Task Force po­lice and RMS heavy ve­hi­cle in­spec­tors en­tered the dis­tri­bu­tion cen­tre of the com­pany in­volved for a heavy ve­hi­cle com­pli­ance au­dit, in­spect­ing 34 units.

From this, 10 de­fect no­tices were is­sued, seven for mi­nor is­sues “re­lat­ing to brake booster stroke alerts be­ing vis­i­ble, an­cil­lary equip­ment such as dam­aged mir­rors, miss­ing com­pul­sory marker plates, frayed seat­belts and sharp edges on dam­aged pan­els on ve­hi­cles”.

Two no­tices were for non-com­pli­ant speed lim­iters “with one ve­hi­cle hav­ing a road speed of 103km/h and the other 104km/h”. One ma­jor de­fect no­tice was for a non-com­pli­ant speed lim­iter “which had road speed of 109km/h with a po­ten­tial road speed of 129km/h”.

RMS is­sued one sub­stan­tial axle weight breach for a heavy ve­hi­cle al­legedly at four tonne over its ap­pli­ca­ble axle weight. “The driver of this ve­hi­cle was also is­sued with a di­rec­tion to re­duce the load over that axle spac­ing,” the po­lice no­tice says.

LongHaul Driv­ers As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Brian Turpie

Photo: NSW Traf­fic and High­way Pa­trol Face­book

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.