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SARTA slams SA Police over heavy-handed enforcement approach

The South Australian Road Transport Association (SARTA) has lashed out at SA Police (SAPol), slamming its safety/risk-based enforcement approach and labelling it “a tragic disgrace”.

In a social media post today, SARTA executive officer Steve Shearer said, “SARTA and all other responsible organisations and individuals who make up the vast majority of the trucking industry, absolutely support the need for trucks to be safe/roadworthy and be operated safely.

“It is blindingly obvious however that too many police and some other enforcement officers are not focussed on safety and are not applying a reasonable approach to HV roadside inspections.”

SARTA believes officers aren’t realising the impact they are causing to the economy by dishing out hundreds of millions in “unjustified and unwarranted costs to the road freight task; costs which end up on the shop shelves”.

“It’s impossible to discuss this effectively with SAPol because they have their heads buried in the sand as they continue to adopt a mindless cops vs robbers approach in which SAPol no longer engages in effective mature discussion with industry,” said Shearer.

“Instead their approach is one of belligerence and bullying based on a model.

“Mindless black and white literal enforcement of equipment specifications that are not properly understood by officers is adding hundreds of millions of utterly unjustified cost to the national road freight task and the economy without any safety gain,” he continued.

“It is also a massive waste and miss-use of costly and limited policing resources. Proper roadworthiness enforcement by trained and well-informed officers who apply an appropriate safety-focussed and risk-based approach and who are mature enough to work with the industry, is what should be happening.”

Though Shearer acknowledges that SARTA believes the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) is headed in the right direction and taking a more pragmatic approach to such matters than SAPol.

“[SAPol] are pulling in the opposite direction and that must stop,” he said.

Shearer makes a case in point, regarding trucks being grounded for something as minor as faded printing on a button.

“One prominent industry service/repair supplier told us this week that he replaces hundreds of these buttons following defects issued by officers, almost always police, and in a recent case the officer grounded the truck just because of the worn printing on the buttons!” he said.

Sharing photos of the “defective” buttons, he pondered, “In what universe is it even remotely sensible to defect and even ground a truck because the screen printing on the yellow and red buttons is worn?”

Shearer also noted that the buttons are also different colours and different shapes. “That is plain stupidity and/or belligerence by the police involved.

“If anything either a warning or a self-clearing defect should have been issued, but evidently that would not have satisfied the officer’s ego… and no the driver was not aggressive.

“Since SAPol continues to refuse to engage maturely with industry, the sooner the HVNL is changed to limit the enforcement of roadworthiness standards to officers who are fully trained and skilled in that task and who adhere to NHVR directions re the application of a genuine safety-focussed and Risk-based approach, the better.

“Governments must act to fix this debacle and end the ineffective and counter-productive belligerent police practices. SARTA is pushing hard to ensure Ministers understand and that this happens.”

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