One penalty infringement and two defect notices were issued by transport inspectors when 14 heavy vehicles were intercepted to check driver’s work diaries, load restraints and compliance with vehicle standards during a joint operation with police at the Mingela Rest Area beside the Flinders Highway.
Transport and Main Roads (TMR) along with Queensland Police conducted “Operation Safe Return”, stopping heavy and light vehicles travelling towards Charters Towers on Friday January 14.
“Transport inspectors play an important role in the safety of Queensland drivers and protecting the state’s road infrastructure. This operation aimed to reduce mechanical-related crashes by making drivers and owners more aware of any safety concerns before travelling and provided opportunities to educate drivers on their legal requirements and how to comply. One penalty infringement notice and two defect notices were issued,” a TMR spokesman told Spy.
The spokesman said inspectors provided on-hand advice and support to police and also checked light vehicles; issuing one penalty infringement notice and two defect notices.
“Prevention is key, and the best thing any road user can do to ensure they have a safe vehicle is to perform regular checks,” the spokesman said.
Spy was travelling to Charters Towers that day and was breath tested for alcohol as numerous police were involved at the rest area, which is about 43km from Charters Towers.
This rest area is popular with many truck drivers including those with quads, triples and B-doubles.
I asked a courteous police officer why that location was selected, as one of the light truck drivers was tested.
“It is convenient because all traffic travels along the road. We have had trucks as well,” he said.
At the rest area there are toilets and a shaded area under with two lots of concrete tables and chairs that are well used.
The officers even had a barbecue set up on one table and at the other an officer was drug testing a driver.
As this operation went on, scores of trucks whizzed past heading in the opposite direction towards Townsville about 87km away.
The operation was a huge topic of conversation amongst truckies on their radio.
Many advised other truckies of the police presence but they had no other route to take to miss it.
Charters Towers Acting Snr Sgt Paul Breitkreutz told Big Rigs that 302 vehicles, mostly cars, were pulled up in the Police Operation the boys and girls in blue dubbed “Below 300”.
“We targeted the fatal five things that cause deaths and not one car driver was over the legal alcohol limit. Nine traffic tickets were issued. Also we did five drug tests and one person was positive and charged,” he said.
The 130km section of the Flinders Highway between Townsville and Charters Towers has improved considerably in recent years and much of it has a speed limit of 110km/h.
A project on the Flinders Highway which was recently completed included widening sections of highway pavement to allow for the installation of one metre separations between oncoming traffic lanes.
These wide centre line treatments have been shown to reduce the risk of head-on collisions, greatly improving road safety.