Pedestrian Council of Australia
Safety – Amenity – Access – Health


Media Release

Friday 9 December 2005




PCA Asks NSW Roads Minister Joe Tripodi to Conduct an Urgent and Independent Inquiry into the Vehicle Modification Industry and the RTA’s Inspection and Certification Procedures


PCA Chairman, Mr Harold Scruby, has called on NSW Roads Minister Joe Tripodi to conduct an urgent and independent inquiry into the Vehicle Modification Industry and the RTA’s Inspection and Certification Procedures.


In reply to our concerns about raised vehicles, especially 4WDs, the former CE of the RTA, Paul Forward, wrote to us in March 2001 (attached).  He stated:  “The responsibility for ensuring a motor vehicle is road worth ay all times rests with the owner …. modifications must not reduce the strength, controllability or level of safety of the vehicle."


We sent a copy of his letter to Raphael Grzebieta, president of the Australasian College of Road Safety and an Associate Professor of civil engineering at Melbourne's Monash University.  He is one of  Australia's leading experts in the study of motor vehicle rollover and aggressivity.


He wrote:  "Any regulatory authority that allows and certifies such raised vehicles needs to seriously reconsider its position and attitude towards road safety.  In summary, Paul Forward’s response in regards to the ADR is a complete whitewash and very disappointing. It ignores the basic concern we all have in regards to these raised vehicles, (i.e.) they are unsafe on any road at any speed. They are dangerous both for the vehicle occupants as well as other road users. They should not be allowed to be registered."


Mr Scruby said: “4WDs are already over-represented in rollover crashes and Professor Grzebieta is concerned that raising their centre of gravity makes them far more susceptible to a rollover crash and would cause more serious injuries in a T-bone collision with a regular vehicle.


Mr Scruby added:  “NSW Police have informed us that there are no guidelines for Raised Vehicles.  If they suspect the vehicle is illegally modified, all they can do is send it back to the RTA.  And the penalties are ludicrous.


“We believe it is impossible to raise a vehicle and not reduce the level of safety or controllability of a vehicle.  Especially today, where many modern vehicles are equipped with ESP (Electronic Stability Programs).  Tinkering with such sophisticated systems can only seriously endanger the lives and limbs of all road users.


“We also believe the inspection and approval process for raising vehicles is, to the say the least, a farce and the RTA has abrogated its Duty of Care by permitting any of these vehicles on our roads.  International manufacturers make their vehicles to very specific standards, spending millions, building the best strength and controllability for each vehicle.  Then some backyard mechanic comes along, jacks up the vehicle, up to a foot, and the only requirement is a signature from some so-called "engineer".


References:  SUV Rollover News

Raised 4WD kills boy 3:


Mr Scruby said:  “The 2005 NSW Road Toll is about to exceed 500 deaths.  In 1999, the RTA committed to saving 820 lives by the end of this year.  It is doubtful they have saved one life.  And much of this is due to a widespread culture of apathy and ignorance, where commerce and vested interests always come first and safety, last.”


“Information has recently been obtained by the PCA which suggests that leaders of the 4WD industry are openly flouting the law and illegally modifying their vehicles, without any fear of being caught.




“The PCA demands urgent action and the removal of these killing machines from our roads.”  Mr Scruby said.


CONTACT:   Harold Scruby - Tel:  (0418) 110-011 or (02) 9968-4555

Dear Minister

The article in today's Daily Telegraph is nothing short of scandalous.
We have been calling for an independent inquiry into the RTA's Inspection and Certification procedures for years.
There is no doubt many of the RTA's licensed Inspectors are utterly incompetent.
There is very good reason to believe many of their licensed Inspectors are corrupt.
Ask yourself why, in spite of a 2004 directive from the former CE of the RTA, Paul Forward, that number-plates be properly inspected to ensure that they are not obstructed or obscured, (for example) one in every four Subaru Foresters still has a tow-bar obstructing the rear plate.
Ask yourself how the Editor of Australia's largest selling 4WD magazine was able to get an Inspection and Certification of his Raised 4WD for $600 and has been driving it on our roads for the last 6 months, in spite of the fact that his own review publicly stated it would be "too high to be legal in NSW". (See the photos and article below and the letters we received from one of his former employees).
This is a scandal.  And it's one of the reasons the NSW Road Toll is so high and about to again exceed 500 deaths this year.
Minister, it's now time to transfer Road Safety to the Motor Accidents Authority.  The RTA should be in charge of building and maintaining roads.  They have proven they are incapable of managing Road Safety.
Kind regards
Harold Scruby
Pedestrian Council of Australia

The Daily Telegraph - Friday 10 December 2005

Editor's illegal monster truck

THE editor of Australia's biggest selling 4WD magazine has been driving around Sydney in a modified monster truck that his own publication branded as illegal.

Publisher Pat Callinan has been regularly commuting to work at Silverwater from his Blue Mountains home in a Toyota LandCruiser that he kitted out with raised suspension and over-sized tyres among $27,000 worth of modifications.

The vehicle, dubbed the "camel cruiser", was featured in a front page story in 4WD Monthly in June this year.

The story documented a 72-hour operation to turn an average factory-edition LandCruiser into a desert-eating beast that sits above Toyota's specifications.

But having given the modified vehicle a big thumbs up for its off-road potential, 4WD Monthly's automotive engineer John Varietidimis warned it was unsuitable to be driven on NSW roads.

"As it stands, with the 35-inch tyres and 4-inch lift, the 'Cruiser is a whisker too high to be legal in NSW. The law states that the headlights cannot be more than 1200mm above ground level," he was quoted as telling the magazine.

Callinan then told readers: "So I'll have to investigate the possibility of some 33-inch tyres or lower springs".

Having ridden rough-shod over the law for nearly six months, Mr Callinan admitted yesterday that he had not made a single alteration to the vehicle. He conceded the suspension was still illegal but said the natural "settling" of the springs had probably dropped the height of the vehicle back within appropriate parameters.

Details of the truck raised the ire of the growing lobby against modified 4WD's yesterday.

"Once you start fiddling with raising the cars above what manufacturers specify, you turn them into death machines," Pedestrian Council president Harold Scruby said.

Australasian College of Road Safety president Raphael Grzebieta said raising a vehicle lifted its centre of gravity, making it more susceptible to a roll over in a crash.  


 -----Original Message-----
From: Simon Simon []
Sent: Sunday, 13 November 2005 1:11 PM

Subject: RE: 4WD Magazine

Hi Harold,

I hand't really thougt about the twin wheel carrier. The story about this 4WD is very long (as in lots of pages) and goes over 2 different magazine.

In the second magazine, the person Pat sent out to drive his 4x4 (one of his

staff) states that the LandCruiser dose not drive very well at all (the steering and handling) and recomends it be lowereed and rectified. At least one person in there has some sense, but I fear he would not have any say in what happens to Pats car. My recommendation would also be to lower it a little to be legal.

There is also a thread on the 4WD Monthly forum where people talk about illegal 4x4's on the front cover. From memory I think Pat makes a statement to "piss off" type of thing. Harold, please don't take that for gospel as it's been some time since I read it and I'd have to check. Pat is a very arrogent person and figures he can do what he wants because of his position.

Unfortunately he influences many people in to what they do to their 4x4's regardless of legailty.

Let me know how it go's


-----Original Message-----
From: Simon Simon []
Sent: Saturday, 12 November 2005 11:27 AM

Subject: RE: 4WD Magazine

Hi Harold,

attaches is 2 pictures of the 4x4 I have been telling you about. 1 photo is the front cover where Pat gave his 4x4 to a staff memeber to take out for photos and story in outback nsw. The other scan is of where the engineer says the 4x4 is too high but Pat still drives it like this. the magazine date is june 2005.

Let me know how you go and if you need any more information.



-----Original Message-----
From: Simon Simon []
Sent: Monday, 10 October 2005 11:21 PM

Subject: 4WD Magazine

Hi Harold,

I would like to bring to your attention the apparent shunning of the road laws by a 4WD magazine editor.

The editor of 4WD Monthly Magazine (Pat Callinan) seems to think that because of his position he can do as he pleases with regards to the montrouse 4WD he owns and drives on public roads.

Recently he wrote a few articles on a 100 Series Land Cruiser that he purchased and had equiped with aftermarket accessories. The finished product is one that stands almost half a foot higher on its suspension and has tyres much larger than intended.

He also conceded that his 4WD had failed an engineers report as it was too high, but continues to drive it to this day. That is unless his wife is given it to drive the kids around.

Now I must add that I am in favour of some of your ideas, but not all. Some people do have reason to drive 4WDs in the bush and city and it is impossible to have 2 cars to drive in different areas. I do drive a 4WD and use it as my private and work transport, so while I am in favour of safety to all people I don't agree with your blanket statements of banning all 4WD's.

I work in the 4WD industry and have spoken to Pat about the legality of his car, which he admits is also over the legal load limit with all its accessories. But he did not mention this in his storys, preferring to hide the fact.

To make it worse he also provides his 4WD to staff members to drive for work! Surley he is risking a lot by providing illegal cars to staff. He will hapily tell you his Land Cruiser is legally engineered BUT it is not. I personally know the engineer who inspected his car and he stated that it would be legal if it were lowered and had reduced tyre sizes - which Pat has not done.

Pat Callinan also drives an extremely modified competition Suzuki 4WD on the public roads - which is also very illegal. Again he will tell you it is engineered, but omits to tell you only partially. You see, many of the componants on this second 4WD are not legal at all. He also gives this 4WD to staff to drive occasionally.

I cant imagine why his staff are willing to drive such death machines at all

- perhaps they fear for their jobs if they do not abide by Pats rules.

I have taken Pat to task on these matters and he shrugs it of and tells me to get a life and stop whinging. I am not normally one to take offence but this attitide is one of disrespect for the law and one of "I can do what I like" syndrome - just beacuse of who I am.

I would be willing to speak to you about these matters, so let me know if you need more information.

Regards Simon.