Three unrelated truck crashes that resulted in the deaths of five people between January 15 and January 16 have sparked a mass police operation across the state that will see all heavy vehicles entering and leaving NSW stopped, inspected and drivers tested for drugs and alcohol, NSW Police announced on Thursday morning.
NSW Police will work in conjunction with Roads and Maritime Services, as well as interstate police forces to conduction Operation Rolling Thunder – tipped as Australia’s largest ever heavy vehicle compliance operation.
Highway Patrol and General Duties officers from metropolitan and regional areas, alongside RMS inspectors will conduct inspections of heavy vehicles at various locations in NSW, as well as conducting drug and alcohol testing of heavy vehicle drivers.
Queensland, Victorian, ACT, and South Australian Police are conducting simultaneous operations to ensure all heavy vehicles entering and leaving NSW are stopped, thoroughly inspected and drivers tested for drugs and alcohol.
The operation will be ongoing throughout the day.
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Assistant Commissioner Michael Corboy, said the operation presented an opportunity for police and other agencies to work together to ensure the entire trucking industry is operating safely on the road.
“This operation is in direct response to three fatal truck crashes in the course of two days earlier this year, that cost the lives of five people,” he said.
“We simply cannot stand by and accept that dangerous trucks are on our roads and are causing people to die.
“NSW carries the bulk of the nation’s freight and we need to ensure that all of the trucks coming and going from the state are safe and compliant, and that truck drivers are not driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
“Today’s operation will test the entire heavy-vehicle industry in NSW and across other states.
“We will review results from the operation and stop any trucks, drivers, owners or operators who can’t comply with safety standards and road rules, to ensure all dangerous trucks are removed from our roads.”
RMS compliance director Roger Weeks said this is one of the largest operations jointly conducted by Roads and Maritime and NSW Police.
“Last year more than half a million heavy vehicle units were inspected and we will continue to work closely with NSW Police to target and remove unsafe vehicles from NSW roads,” Mr Weeks said.
“NSW has the most comprehensive heavy vehicle safety and compliance system in the country and heavy vehicle drivers who ignore the law risk losing their licence and incurring heavy fines.”
A truck driver was killed on January 15 after a truck carrying ethanol burst into flames on the M1 Motorway at Cooranbong.
Lake Macquarie police Chief Inspector Darren Cox said three trucks and a car were involved in a crash in the lead-up to the inferno.
He said early investigations showed a truck driving south “clipped” another truck, which was parked on the side of the road.
A third truck and another car then crashed, he said.
"It's caused a large collision that involved a B-double as well, carrying a fairly extensive fuel load," Chief Inspector Cox said.
"A number of people have been taken to various hospitals – the drivers of those vehicles – for the purpose of mandatory blood and urine tests.
“It's necessitated for safety reasons the closure of the M1, both north and southbound.”