SA Transport Minister Stephen Mullighan recently highlighted strict new legislation which would affect an estimated 12,500 trucks traveling down the South Eastern Freeway each week – this is the a major corridor from Adelaide to the eastern states.
Truckies caught speeding on this stretch of SA’s freeway , a major road freight corridor, will lose their licence automatically.
They will also be hit with harsher penalties which may include imprisonment under the new laws proposed by the state government.
Truck drivers who don’t use low gear on the down track of the South Eastern Freeway or those who fail to observe the speed limit will automatically have their licences taken away for 6 months and fined almost $1000 for a first offence.
For a second offence, an automatic 12 month loss of licence will apply and a 3 year loss of licence for a third offence and offences thereafter.
Under the proposed laws, courts will have the power to impose more serious penalties including having a licence suspended for 12 months for the first offence and 3 years for second and subsequent offences as well as imprisonment for up to 2 years.
Mr Mullighan explained the need for the proposed laws and harsher penalties it entails,
“The horrific crashes involving heavy vehicles on the South Eastern Freeway will have an enduring impact on those who survived and the family and friends of those who lost their lives,” Mr Mullighan said.
“The State Government took decisive action on an unprecedented scale to improve the safety of the road, the drivers who use it every day and of the roadworthiness of the heavy vehicles which rely on the transport route, to ensure that such devastating incidents are never again repeated.
“Using low gear and sticking to the 60kmh speed limit are fundamental to ensuring heavy vehicles can safely navigate the steep descent between Crafers and the Tollgate.
He went on to explain that most heavy vehicle drivers were abiding by the laws but the few that are disobeying the laws are risking the lives of other road-users.
Companies facing fine increases will also be less inclined to protect drivers that are flouting the law,
“While the vast majority of heavy vehicle drivers on the freeway do the right thing, these penalties are designed to send a clear message to those who continue to risk the lives of other drivers by flouting these laws. Ignorance is not a defence.
“The massive increase in fines for body corporates is about stopping companies from protecting unsafe drivers.”
The proposed laws are in response to the Coronial recommendations made into the death of truck driver James William Venning and other serious crashes involving out of control trucks on the freeway.
A coronial inquest into Venning’s death found that his truck was travelling well above the 60km/h speed limit.
Impact on Companies
Under the proposed new laws, the penalty for a company who failed to nominate a driver would increase from $400 to $25,000. Courts would be able to impose a maximum penalty of $50,000.
These new laws which are expected to be enforced later this year, will only apply to heavy vehicles on a prescribed area of the South Easter Freeway descent into Adelaide.
Authorities will also be upgrading safety cameras along the strip of freeway.
The South Australian Government will be introducing a mandatory inspection scheme for high risk heavy vehicles.