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MEDIA RELEASE

PCA Calls On All Transport Minsters To Immediately Introduce Demerit Points And Loss Of Licence For Truck Drivers Who Falsify Log Books

Wednesday 26 February 2003
Following today’s revelations about Harker Transport (details attached), the Chairman of the PCA, Mr Harold Scruby, today again called on all Transport Ministers to immediately introduce Demerit Points, Loss of Licence and much higher monetary penalties for falsifying or not keeping accurate log books.

Mr Scruby said: “In December last year, we published a letter in The Australian regarding this matter. A copy is attached and the text appears below (QUOTE):

“MANY deaths and injuries on our roads are caused by truck drivers.

Some truckies have just held a blockade in the NSW town of Goulburn, claiming they are being forced to drive illegally, for long hours, often on drugs, to meet the demands of their employers. This is utter nonsense. No one is forced to break the law. Each driver has decided to break the law for commercial gain.

The penalties around Australia for falsifying or not keeping an accurate log-book are at most $164 and no demerit points. And many companies pay the fines on behalf of their drivers.

Yet in some states, it's $220 and three demerit points for travelling in a bus-lane and $200 and two demerit points for playing loud music, where nobody's safety is compromised.

Deliberately driving while fatigued is equally as lethal as high-range speeding, which can attract penalties exceeding $2,000 and automatic loss of licence for 6 months.

It's time to get serious about this behaviour and amend these ridiculous anomalies.

Tough penalties, demerit points and loss of licence will get these killers off our roads and allow those truck drivers who obey the law to earn a decent living.


Mr Scruby added: “Fatigue is one of the biggest killers on our roads. The current system is a farce and serves to promote this illegal, lethal and widespread behaviour. Profits continue to precede safety. And $164 is a pittance when there is a load worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to deliver on time.

“Additionally, all governments must implement on-the-spot confiscation of vehicles driven by unlicensed drivers, particularly truck drivers. Such a system has had spectacular results in New Zealand. Today’s revelations about Harker Transport surprise no-one. Nothing will change until there is a strictly enforced system which swiftly and automatically forces those truck drivers who choose to cheat the system and drive while fatigued off our roads.” Mr Scruby said.

Further information:


Harold Scruby - Chairman/CEO – Pedestrian Council of Australia -
Tel: (02) 9968-4555 (0418) 110-011
Email: walking@walk.com.au
Internet: www.walk.com.au






Truck company facing charges

Courier Mail

Wednesday 26 February 2003
By Steven Wardill, David Potter


A BRISBANE trucking company, its managing director and eight drivers face 273 charges after an investigation following a fatal accident involving an ex-employee two years ago.

Ninety-one charges each have been been laid against Harker Transport and managing director Stephen Charles Harker, and 91 against the drivers.

The alleged breaches of driving hour regulations and overloading follow a year-long investigation by authorities into the long-haul driving practices of Harker Transport Services.

The inquiry was ordered by Premier Peter Beattie in December 2001 after concerns raised by Queensland Industrial Relations Commissioner Deidre Swan and Transport Workers Union boss Hughie Williams when former Harker driver David Fliedner of Cowra, NSW, was jailed for three years over the deaths of two tourists.

Fliedner admitted in court to falling asleep at the wheel of his semi-trailer, which hit a car, killing a young British couple near Mackay.

Transport Minister Steve Bredhauer, who revealed the charges in State Parliament yesterday, said the Government was pursuing all the people along the chain of responsibility, not just drivers.

He said Queensland was the first state to prosecute operators under its chain of responsibility legislation.
“The Government is committed to taking action against all elements of the transport chain where illegal and unsafe activity is alleged,” he said.

He said 783 actions against drivers and 658 against owners for offences including overloading and excessive driving hours had led to $324,000 in fines.

Mr Harker said the charges would be “strenuously defended”. Charges against the drivers were over two years.
“We employ over 150 people and over 100 of these are heavy vehicle drivers,” he said.
“These statements do not relate in any way directly to the circumstances surrounding a fatal accident in north Queensland two years ago. It was established that Harker Transport did not have a case to answer for in that matter.

“Based on legal advice there is no substance to any of the complaints. We have instructed our lawyers to strenuously defend the proceedings.”

Mr Williams said the TWU would continue to push for further investigations.
“I have been carrying a campaign for changes to the the long-haul industry for more than 20 years,” he said.

“Lots of innocent people have been killed.
“I am disappointed that governments at State and Federal level have allowed this to go on for so long.”
Mr Williams said he had some sympathy for drivers who were caught at the end of the chain of responsibility.

“I keep saying to the drivers to simply say ‘No', but it's not always easy because their jobs depend on the hours.
“The people who are pushing these drivers are the ones who should be charged.”







Sydney Morning Herald


Tuesday 1 July 2003 

 

Letters to the Editor

 

Carnage will continue

 

High-level fatigue is as potentially lethal when driving as high-range drink-driving. Yet the penalty for driving a 20-tonne pantechnicon from Perth to Sydney without sleep and falsifying the log books is $164 and no demerit points.

 

The same driver can obstruct or deface his number plates and avoid camera detection: penalty $69, and no demerit points.

 

The heavy vehicle road carnage will continue until there are high demerit points, loss of licence and stiff penalties for these offences.

 

Harold Scruby,

Pedestrian Council of Australia

Neutral Bay, June 30.