In 27 years behind the wheel, proud Tamworth truckie Brian Turner, 52, had a largely blemish-free record that would be the envy of many drivers around Australia.
But that didn’t seem to hold much weight with the NSW Police officer who pulled him over for eating a subway roll while driving a B-double on the M2 through Baulkham Hills, Sydney, en route to Adelaide on December 1.
Turner was gobsmacked to receive a $514 fine and the loss of three demerit points for allegedly driving without proper control of the vehicle, and a lane merging infringement for $302 and a further two points.
“He said he’d only do me on one, but he did me on the two of them – $816 and five points in one go,” said a frustrated Turner.
“He was not one bit interested in my logbook. If pushing the deadlines was such a big thing, as he was making out, why didn’t he look at my logbook?”
Turner said it’s near impossible to get a “decent feed” in the Greater Sydney area and even harder to find a place to stop to eat it.
His only half decent option that day was the Subway in his cab fridge from the night before, otherwise he would have gladly pulled over and taken time out from the K200.
Turner approached a lawyer for advice but after weighing everything up, including the cost of fighting the tickets, he reluctantly waved the white flag and paid the fines.
He said he came forward with his story to show how police don’t seem to be interested in giving truckies any quarter when it comes to managing their fatigue.
“He was making out I didn’t have proper control of the vehicle, but you can steer these things with one hand, these power steerings.”
Industry legal expert Adam Cockayne, of Heavy Vehicle Lawyers, did not act for Turner but the lawyer believes the truckie got a raw deal from police, based on what he knows about the two alleged incidents.
“Those offences overlap so that’s manifestly unfair,” Cockayne said.
“I understand there’s a significant cost involved in getting lawyers, but if you’re going to lose that number of demerit points, then your livelihood is at stake.”
Cockayne said he would have written to the prosecutor, which would only cost a client a few hundrew bucks, saying: “What the hell are you doing? This is ridiculous, withdraw one of them”.
“They should have gone one or the other, but the police just do what they like and get away with it. NHVR are better to deal with.
“Having the police regulate heavy vehicle issues is unfair, given that we have a regulator that specialises in that area and everything really should be referred to them. They have the expertise.”
Late last year, the NSW Government was canvassing truckies for where they wanted to see a new rest area in western Sydney.
NSW Roads Minister John Graham said drivers have told him that Sydney is the least friendly city for truckies on the east coast and the state government was determined to change that.
Transport for NSW did not respond to a Big Rigs request for a progress update.