Unsecured heavy vehicle loads a danger to all

Public news

In August, a truck travelling on the Horrocks Highway near Roseworthy, South Australia with multiple 200kg metal spools on the trailer was found to be using worn and damaged straps, which resulted in three of the metal spools falling off the trailer while moving and smashing into a vehicle being driven in the opposite direction.

The weight of the spools crushed the front of the opposing vehicle but luckily the driver did not sustain life threatening injuries.

Local highway patrol found multiple load restraint breaches on both of the truck’s trailers.

The driver of the truck was reported for load restraint breaches and will be summonsed to court at a later date.

As a business, there is a duty of care to ensure that loads are loaded and restrained in a safe and secure manner, as it is not only the driver that is responsible but everyone in the supply chain.

Who is responsible?

Under the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL), everyone in the supply chain has an obligation to ensure breaches of road transport laws do not occur. Duty holders need to make sure that their action or inaction does not contribute to or encourage breaches of the HVNL. If a party’s actions, inactions or demands cause or contribute to an offence, they can be held legally accountable.

In making a ‘reasonable steps’ claim, a person also has to prove:

They took all reasonable steps to prevent the breach; or

There was no reasonable steps they could have taken to prevent the breach.

The law requires you to take all reasonable steps to prevent your conduct from causing or contributing to a breach. In addition, the law also prohibits you from:

  • Making demands that you know or ought to know would cause a breach,
  • Coercing, inducing or encouraging breaches, and
  • Passing on false or misleading information that could cause a breach.

Heavy Vehicle National Law (South Australia) Act 2013—1.7.2021 Schedule—Heavy Vehicle National Law Chapter 4—Vehicle operations—mass, dimension and loading

Part 1—Preliminary

111—Compliance with loading requirements

(1) A person who drives, or permits another person to drive, a heavy vehicle on a road must ensure the vehicle, and the vehicle's components and load, comply with the loading requirements applying to the vehicle, unless the person has a reasonable excuse.

Maximum penalty:

(a) For a minor risk breach—$3 000; or

(b) For a substantial risk breach—$5 000; or

(c) For a severe risk breach—$10 000.

For any questions about chain of responsibility or the HVNL, contact the WR team on 8291 1000 or at wr@mtasant.com.au.