By David McAlpine
VICTORIA Police have stressed the importance of safely securing loads on vehicles.
Acting Senior Sergeant Jason Hullick, who leads the Bass Coast Highway Patrol, says his officers respond to potentially hazardous debris on local roads several times per week.
“A lot of the stuff is treated seriously or as a semi-urgent response because of the potential for that to cause injury,” he said.
The most common items include firewood, bales of hay and metal objects which have broken off vehicles, as well as smaller items such as bags and work boots.
Mr Hullick recalls an incident where an unrestrained tyre was dislodged from a trailer, striking a motorcyclist.
“The person who was driving the ute and trailer was charged with causing an injury to that motorcyclist because that tyre wasn’t tied down properly,” he said.
Mr Hullick is aware of motorists removing hazards from the road but he stresses the importance of not placing themselves in danger.
“A lot of people won’t ring in but you will see a lot of debris on the sides of the roads, so at some point it’s fair to say that debris would have been on the road somewhere,” he said.
Mr Hullick said the “vast majority” of motorists safely secure their loads, adding that the heavy vehicle industry is generally compliant.
He said his officers interact most often with local tradespeople and farmers who are “going around the corner” and do not believe they need to tie down their tools and materials.
Leongatha-based Ryan’s Transport carries general freight, bricks and steel mesh on their B-Double trailers, as well as on smaller tray trucks for local deliveries.
Tom Ryan says his family’s business has established policies for their truck drivers, stipulating correct loading and restraining procedures.
“Probably in the heavy vehicle industry, I think it’s very well publicised and you’ve got groups such as the Victorian Transport Association and VicRoads themselves that produce a lot of good gazettes covering all sorts […] of loads,” he said.
He often observes customers picking up goods from their warehouse not restraining their loads.
“We’re quite adamant with them, they have to restrain it. When they drive out the gate, they have to be right,” he said.
Penalties for unsecured loads can range from an infringement notice to criminal prosecution, depending on the severity of the breach.
– David McAlpine is studying a Science and Arts double degree at Monash University and is a freelance science and health journalist. He tweets as @dreamingscience