Raft of charges as more Cootes trucks found unsafe
Melbourne-based trucking company Cootes Transport has been hit with 67 counts of operating unsafe vehicles, after safety investigations crossed state lines.
VicRoads laid the charges following broad investigations triggered by a fatal tanker crash in New South Wales last year.
The string of charges fall under Victoria’s Road Safety Vehicle Regulations and have hearings booked for the magistrates' court on July 16.
Cootes Transport could be fined up to $96,000 if found guilty, each fine carrying a maximum penalty of $1,400.
Director of regulatory services at VicRoads, Richard Bell, said the inspectors used information from the NSW Roads and Maritime Services’ own checks after the crash in Mona Vale in which two people were killed and five others injured.
“There were a number of vehicles we inspected and there were significant defects, but I can't really go into it much more that that given the matter is before the court,” Mr Bell told the ABC this week.
A statement from Cootes Transport suggests the firm is in damage-control mode, and that it believes it is dealing with the deadly issues.
“The matters arising from these inspections have since been addressed by Cootes Transport which is now in the final stages of a national restructure focussing on a smaller and more modern fleet with an average vehicle age of less than 4 years,” the company said.
“The company has also invested in a comprehensive national safety and maintenance plan to improve its systems and processes, its maintenance infrastructure and training as part of its commitment to safer systems and safer roads.
“The breaches relate to inspections carried out in October 2013 and are fully provided for as disclosed by the Company in February 2014.
Mr Bell says VicRoads has increased the level and depth of its inspections in the last year specifically to ensure safety standards are being met.
“We are finding there are some operators who aren't maintaining their fleets to the appropriate standard,” he said.
“We've been into a number of premises over the last few months where we've put a number of vehicles off the road and required full [road-worthy checks] to be conducted.”
VicRoads will continue both random and targeted inspections.
“It's important that operators continue to maintain their vehicle to the required standard. It's every operator's responsibility to ensure their vehicles are safe when they're out there on the road.”