Trucking industry warned after multiple tunnel incidents

Truck driver receives six demerit points and $2,196 fine after damaging tunnel roof.


New South Wales authorities have issued an over-height load warning following two tunnel impact incidents yesterday.

A low loader carrying an excavator hit the roof-mounted fire sprinklers inside the Airport Tunnel’s south bound lanes, breaking the roof and sprinklers.

Police and Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) officers found the combination travelled for 100m before the driver realised the collision had occurred, at which point he stopped his vehicle.

The driver copped a penalty notice for disobeying a low clearance sign, which carries a $2,196 penalty as well as the loss of six demerit points.

RMS director of safety and compliance Peter Wells says the driver who received a fine and demerit points also faces the possibility of licence and registration suspension for up to three months and a bill to recover the cost of repairing the damage to the tunnel.

"We have the toughest heavy vehicle compliance regime in the country," Wells says. 

"Rogue truck drivers who cause significant delays to other motorists or who damage infrastructure will not be tolerated."

Meanwhile, another heavy vehicle activated the height warning sensors just before the M5 tunnel at Bexley.

Police and RMS inspectors later stopped the truck, which was then backed-up and re-directed to an RMS checking station.

While the truck and load were found not to be over height, it is believed debris in the load contributed to the tunnel sensors being activated.

Several defects were found on the vehicle during the checking station inspection.

Assistant NSW Police commissioner John Hartley says it is important drivers are aware of load height and loads are properly secured to avoid such incidents recurring.

"The Airport Tunnel incident created a response from police, the RMS, and Fire & Rescue NSW, all of which created significant delays for road users while the truck and its load were removed and repairs made to the tunnel emergency sprinkler system," Hartley says.

"The police and the RMS are there to ensure that over height, over mass, and wide-loads are conducted safely for the benefit of all road users."


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