The truckie involved in this week’s massive Sydney Harbour Tunnel hold-up wasn’t at fault for triggering the overheight sensor warning, believes peak trucking body Road Freight NSW (RFNSW).
In a media statement, the association said it had been advised that the truck involved in the incident on the approach to the tunnel yesterday afternoon (June 7) had travelled from Port Botany to Macquarie Park in the morning and had passed-through the tunnel without a problem.
But on the return trip, after driving through the Lane Cove Tunnel without incident, the driver was pinged on the approach to the Sydney Harbour Tunnel.
“It appears a small piece of twisted plastic/aluminium protruding from the top of the truck set off the sensors,” the statement said.
“The driver says he didn’t see or hear the truck being damaged, but thinks he may have hit a hanging tree on the way back into the port. Even with the piece of plastic protruding from the truck, the driver says it would have passed under the tunnel without causing any damage or issues to other motorists. The driver makes the tunnel trip every few days and has never had a problem like this.”
RFNSW said that the first NSW Police officer on the scene indicated to the driver that there wasn’t an issue with the truck height and said he could go through Sydney Harbour Tunnel.
“The driver knew the police were right. However, the driver, being a professional, refused to enter the tunnel and insisted that he be given an escort by the responsible officers on his return journey over the Harbour Bridge.
“It’s not always the truckie’s fault. Some drivers have been pulled-up, even though they were within height limits, with pot-holes causing the truck to set-off overheight sensors.”
RFNSW has called on the Minns government to urgently engage with the trucking industry on overheight trucks using Sydney’s tunnel roads – before any changes are made to current road regulations.
“We certainly agree with the Premier that there’s been too many instances of overheight trucks obstructing traffic in the Sydney Harbour Tunnel and that something has to change, but we need to develop and implement sensible, practical solutions which won’t see trucks taken-off the road, hurting trucking businesses and the wider NSW economy,” said RFNSW CEO Simon O’Hara.
O’Hara said that the latest incident shows why the industry and our stakeholders need to work together on a better system, with the technology currently used to monitor trucks approaching the Sydney Harbour Tunnel enhanced for preventative measures.
He’d also like to see an awareness campaign to educate drivers about the varying height limits in tunnels across the Sydney road network, particularly for those new drivers, or for those from interstate or from outside of Sydney.
“RFNSW is obviously concerned that any disruption to traffic on our roads is hurting the NSW economy, which is why we need to keep freight moving safely on our roads, ensuring that any changes to current regulations are only introduced after there’s been thorough consultation with industry,” O’Hara added.
“We look forward to participating in industry stakeholder discussions and putting forward the views and experiences of our RFNSW members who are frequent users of the tunnel.”