Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Truck deaths charges

A follow-up to my post last Thursday about the triple fatality caused by a B-double truck driver.

The driver - serial offender Vincent George - has been charged with three counts of dangerous driving causing death. His licence has been suspended - yet again - and he will be in court - yet again -  in May.

Police are saying that when the results of toxicology tests are known he may face further charges.

There have also been reports suggesting he's been driving beyond the legal hours.

In addition to that, they found that the speed limiter on the truck had been disabled.

Road safety authorities are reported to be carrying out an unprecedented operation on the trucking company, Lennons Transport Services, which employed George, a driver with a history of offences and licence suspensions.

They are inspecting trucks at the depot and also on the roads of several states. They're saying that the drivers will be tested for drugs and alcohol and their trucks will be searched, some by drug detecting dogs.

ABC News reports that Police Assistant Commissioner John Hartley says the operation should sent a warning to the entire trucking industry.

"We are determined to send a clear message to truck operators flouting safety regulations across the state. You will face serious criminal charges," he said.

Many of us who share the roads with these oversize and inappropriate vehicles will think the operation should have been undertaken a long, long time ago.

Speed limiter disabled? You see the number of trucks hurtling along at way over 100kph and that's no surprise.  More like par for the course.

Drivers doped up so they can stay awake to drive more hours than legally permitted? Common knowledge. Years ago there was a burst of publicity about rampant pseudoephedrine use amongs truck drivers. The story soon disappeared though.

Years of indifference. Years of policians in bed with the trucking industry. Years of increasing numbers of these vehicles on our inadequate roads. Years of people being killed by them.

To say enough is enough is an understatement.There needs to be an ongoing, constant inspection of trucking companies, of all heavy goods vehicles and their drivers. Not just electronic surveillance, log books, speed limiters. As we know only too well, they can be circumvented.

It also needs physical inspections.  Highway patrols, trucks pulled over for roadside drug & alcohol tests and vehicle inspections. Weighbridge stations all open 24/7, not the hit and miss system we have now.

Truck companies need to be regularly inspected without notice. So do the premises of individuals who operate as sub-contractors with their own trucks.

As for the case in question, a person convicted of killing someone by dangerous driving can be sentenced to a maximum of ten years imprisonment. If there's a conviction, let's see the full weight of the law this time.

I don't know what the law says about the driver's employer in an instance such as Vincent George/Lennons.

At the very least their decision to employ a driver with such an appalling record endangered other road users, so anyone involved in that decision should be removed from the company, and the industry, immediately.

And of course if there was any knowledge of vehicle tampering  or of drivers' illegal behaviour then again the severest action possible needs to be taken.

And we need our politicians to get the trucks off our roads.

Afternoon update

It's a running story which will go on for a while, especially as the police are still looking for a couple of dozen Lennons trucks which are out on the roads.

Meanwhile we're hearing that of 23 vehicles so far inspected, ten of the company's trucks have been tampered with, including seven allegedly modified to exceed the maximum speed of 100kph.  Some modifications have been reset back to where they should have been, according to AC John  Hartley on the radio this afternoon.

And a driver has abandoned one of their trucks in Victoria. Police said the driver was nowhere to be seen but they found a log book in a rubbish bin.

Oh, and you'll never guess:  "Lennons declined to comment."

However, the company website assures us:

A state of the art C-Track real-time GPS fleet management system has been implemented to ensure that the vehicles and drivers are continuously monitored.

Lennons Transport Services implemented a strategy that ensures that Lennons and their clients due diligence requirements are met by implementing the Trucksafe Industry Accreditation program as well as the Transitional Fatigue Program.

It is a policy of Lennons Transport Services that we will operate to ensure that the well being and safety of all our employees will never be compromised in the day-to-day operations of the business.

Picky of me I know, but I'd like to have seen them say other road users' safety would not be compromised. They only mention their employees.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I drove past that crash and it was horrible. A car is tiny and nothing compared to a truck. I really wish they would enforce them better and get them off the roads. I'm so angry this man was allowed to be in control of a huge vehicle, effectively a lethal weapon, when he already had a lengthy driving record. I feel so bad for the victims and their family. I agree with what you say about better regulation and I wish it would happen. I'm really hoping this is the start.