Brake issues and empty trucks feature in NSW crash stats

Compliance efforts to focus on speed limiters, fatigue and roadworthiness

Brake issues and empty trucks feature in NSW crash stats
A NSW Police image of Operation Stock Check


Transport for NSW (TfNSW) is crediting its regulatory approach for an improvement in the fatal heavy vehicle crash rate.

New statistics shows an even outcome over the 12 months up to and including October and an improvement over the three year average.

The department sees the better figures as being the result of a combination of education and an outcome-focused and risk-based compliance approach.  

"Our focus is on heavy vehicle speed limiter compliance, driver fatigue and roadworthiness, particularly around brakes," TfNSW deputy secretary safety, environment and regulation Tara McCarthy says.

"Brakes remain the most common major defect type, with 24 per cent of all heavy vehicles inspected having some sort of brake fault."

As part of TfNSW’s program to improve brake compliance, it says the Heavy Vehicle Rating System (HVRS) was utilised to identify the top 50 companies where fleet inspections found brake faults.

These companies were invited to discuss their compliance in more detail between July and September this year as part of an education campaign.  

They were provided with advice on how they could manage defects and infringements identified during roadside intercepts and at their annual heavy vehicle registration inspection.

"The response to the education initiative indicated the majority of transport operators want to improve their overall safety and compliance, with many of the companies requesting follow-up meetings to evaluate improvements they implement," McCarthy says.

"It was also been pleasing to see an 18 per cent improvement in Safe-T-Cam speeding detections across 2019 with the volume of 12 tonne-plus vehicles detected speeding falling from 2,483 in January to 1990 in December.

"Another area in which there has been improvement is the Sydney-based truck and dog industry.   

"Our figures show that compliance is 64 per cent for the total truck and dog sector with the Sydney-based truck and dog sector dropping to a 61 per cent compliance rate, compared to 88 per cent compliance for the heavy vehicle industry overall.

"This is an improvement on the previous year of 57 per cent compliance, but shows there’s more work to do in this space.   

"With the NSW Government’s massive infrastructure build continuing and the economic stimulus provided in both the Australian and NSW budgets continuing to support and rebuild the economy, encouraging improved safety in the truck and dog sector will be a focus of 2021 for Transport for NSW." 

TfNSW has also released statistics for the past 12 months and the five years 2015-2019.

These show there were:

  • 266 fatal crashes involving heavy trucks, on average 53 fatal crashes per year
  • 299 fatalities from heavy truck crashes, on average 60 people killed per year
  • 5,876 injuries from heavy truck crashes, on average 1,175 injuries per year 
  • This includes 1,673 serious injuries, on average 335 serious  injuries per year. 

This year, for the period, there were:

  • 52 heavy truck fatal crashes, the same as the previous 12 months
  • 58 fatalities from heavy truck crashes, two more than the previous 12 months. 

Oddly, there was a spike in empty heavy vehicles involved, from nine last year to 20 this year. No commentary is attached to that but ATN has sought more information on that an other issues from TfNSW.

Read about the BITRE fatal truck crash statistics, here 

Meanwhile, NSW Police officers from Bathurst Highway Patrol recently ran Operation Stock Check with the assistance of Central Zone Rural Crime Investigators.

The operation ran in the Bathurst and Cowra Township and around Central Tablelands Livestock Exchange sale yards at Carcoar.

"With the focus on compliance across the heavy vehicle industry in the transportation of livestock, identifying stock theft and the prosecution of breaches of regulations," the force says.

The upshot is that 51 firms’ livestock carriers loaded with cattle and lambs were stopped and inspected.

Of those, 12 livestock offences detected with cautions issued for offences relating to not carrying relevant documentation and 19 penalty notices issued for other offences.


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