Transport company receives ‘COR improvement notice’ for overheight truck breach

A transport company has been investigated after one of its trucks hit the overheight warning dongles on General Holmes Drive in Mascot, Sydney, earlier this year.

The truck was carrying portable aeroplane stairs and stopped at the entrance of the Airport Tunnel following the incident.

Together with its load, the truck measured at 4.58m, however the permitted height of the vehicle was 4.3m. Considering the applicable dimension adjustment in favour of the accused, the vehicle’s alleged height was recorded at 4.55m, an excess height of 25cm.

Chain of Responsibility (CoR) investigations took place with regards to the transport company and the loader, assessing compliance with the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL).

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) says the transport company – which hasn’t been publicly named – was found to be lacking in its business practices and training of drivers and was issued an improvement notice to address these issues.

“Investigators then turned their attention to the loader, where they were unable to supply evidence of training and policies and procedures for loading and dimensions to ensure compliance with requirements of the HVNL,” the NHVR said in a media statement.

“The company also received an improvement notice, specifically related to mass, dimension, and loading management in the context of the CoR legislation.

“The notice recommends developing business practices, quality assurance systems, risk assessments, and staff training as well as supervision to enhance compliance with legislative obligations, particularly the Primary Duty for transport activities.

“The NHVR urges all operators and drivers to be proactive in measuring the height of their loads before and throughout their trip, and to plan their journey ahead of time to ensure they comply with tunnel height clearances.”

This outcome comes after a major campaign aimed at ending overheight truck incidents in Sydney’s tunnel network – and a crackdown on those who don’t comply.

The NSW Government, NHVR and Transport for NSW recently launched billboards at 31 key locations around Sydney to warn truck drivers of the penalties for overheight breaches.

This includes six-month vehicle registration suspensions for the owners of heavy vehicles that don’t obey the load height limits.

The zero tolerance approach has drawn criticism from many of the owners of these trucks, who are having their vehicles taken off the road for six months.

However the message seems to be getting through, with NSW statistics showing that incidents involving overheight trucks in the Sydney tunnel network have fallen to their lowest level since 2017.

In November 2023 there were only four overheight incidents reported, compared to 25 in November 2022.

As part of an educational campaign, the NHVR also launched a video (see below) and released overheight information brochures in four different languages. They detail preventative measures along with possible penalties:

  • A fine up to $5500 for over-height trucks disobeying low clearance signage and 12 demerit points.
  • Transport for NSW may issue a suspension period for a driver’s license for up to six months.
  • Transport for NSW may issue a registration suspension period for trucks for up to six months.

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