News, Transport operator fined

Operator plans to challenge rego suspension after overheight breach

NSW operator Simon Hengl is planning to appeal the ruling this week that his new DAF will be banned from the road for the next six months after breaching tough new overheight clearance laws.

Hengl, the owner of the 16-truck strong Hengl Transport of Tomago in the Hunter, understands and accepts the infringement issued to the driver after the prime mover set off the Harbour Tunnel’s southbound sensors on June 2.

The truck had been carting cardboard in a tautliner and the driver was told on the day that it measured at a height of 4.42m on one side and 4.32 on the other, against an allowable height of 4.3m in the tunnel.

But Hengl doesn’t believe that the incident warrants the truck also being taken off the road for six months from August 1.

“It was a shock to us, receiving a telephone call from a NSW Transport representative, advising of the new penalty,” Hengl said in a written statement.

“He apologised for being the bearer of bad news and that the penalty appears harsh.

“We take a safety-first approach and provide a safe working environment. The truck has manufactured specs and is in its first month of operation.

“The driver was given a penalty with a minor breach, no demerit points and a $354 fine. We don’t understand the severe penalty received post receipt and payment of the driver’s fine.

“The impact on the business is considerable.”

Under a deal with the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator this month, all incidents of overheight breaches are now being referred straight to Transport for NSW for sanction, with six cases referred as of Tuesday, June, 27.

Three new overheight incidents have been recorded in the past week: two at the Sydney Harbour Tunnel (both June 26) and one at the Lane Cove Tunnel (June 24).

The two incidents at the Harbour Tunnel have been referred to Transport for NSW, while the incident on the Lane Cove Tunnel did not meet the criteria.

The NSW Government has also since established a taskforce responsible for reducing the number of overheight truck incidents in Sydney’s road tunnel network that is meeting fortnightly to lead measures to stop city-choking episodes.

Roads Minister John Graham said the NSW Government supports the trucking industry and pays tribute to the vast majority of drivers and operators who get freight around the state and Australia safely, know their load height, know the clearance limits and properly plan their routes.

“But overheight incidents at tunnel portals in Sydney are a persistent problem that we must address head-on and I am pleased that the new system of direct referrals to Transport for NSW to pursue operators and suspend registrations for established breaches has already begun to work,” Graham said.

“This sends a message to those who own and operate trucks that there are severe consequences for overheight breaches. We will hopefully begin to see fewer cases in which Sydney traffic is brought to its knees.

“The public has lost patience with these incidents and we will continue to chase offending owners, improve advance warning lights and infrastructure and work with police, the NHVR, the freight industry and the Transport Workers’ Union to address this problem.”

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