NSW POLICE TRAFFIC & HIGHWAY PATROL COMMAND OFFICER TALKS ABOUT DANGERS OF OVERLOADING

The Traffic & Highway Patrol Command of the New South Wales Police Force are out on The Premier State’s roads day in, day out, making sure drivers are safe.

Active on the roads, the Command is also busy on the information superhighway – masterminding #Loadfail on Facebook to hold drivers with overloaded vehicles to account.

Ahead of Isuzu’s webinar about the dangers of ute overloading, the Command’s Stakeholder Relations Manager, Chief Inspector Phil Brooks, sat down to talk with us about this very significant threat to road users’ safety – something that despite the Command’s best efforts, is still occurring “daily”.

NSW TRAFFIC AND HIGHWAY PATROL COMMAND CERTAINLY MADE WAVES WHEN THEY INTRODUCED #LOADFAIL TO FACEBOOK? WHAT WAS THE THINKING BEHIND STARTING THE LOADFAIL HASHTAG?

The primary focus was the amount of photographs we were getting from our own officers. What they were seeing out on the roads and the infringement actions they’d taken, but once we started to release the photographs, people who like our page started to send in lots and lots of these photos that were glaring examples of #Loadfail.

So probably the main mission was to get it out there that there are some loads that are just unacceptable, and we want all road users to see that and make sure they’re doing the right thing on our roads.

WERE THERE ANY SIGNIFICANT INCIDENTS THAT MADE THE TEAM THINK, “WE NEED TO ADDRESS THIS PROBLEM”?

One of the first ones we picked up was a small Subaru station wagon that had significant lengths of wood that were protruding from the back of that vehicle – some of them were even dragging along the road – so we took significant action and infringed that person.

But then the amount of photographs we got certainly made us sit up and think, “what can we do that’s an effective way to tackle this problem?”

We thought by getting these photos out, that it would help keep load restraint front of mind when drivers are heading out on the road. Now we’re seeing that some of our mainstream media like The Daily Telegraph and The Daily Mail have done significant pieces on our #Loadfail pictures.

MEDIA OFTEN PICKS UP ON #LOADFAIL LIKE IT’S A HUMOROUS, OFF-BEAT STORY, BUT OBVIOUSLY IT’S VERY SERIOUS.

Yes, and while we’ve tried to keep the message humorous, our position on overloading is quite serious.

If people are carrying loads that are unsafe, they really shouldn’t be on our roads. That’s the most basic and simple message that we need to convey.

Now, sadly we’ve seen the very significant costs of unsecured loads.

A couple of years ago a ladder came off a tradie’s ute and popped onto the M5, and two old ladies who were driving along weren’t aware of how to respond and stopped behind the ladder and were tragically involved in a crash that cost them their lives.

THAT’S A HARROWING STORY. HOW REGULARLY DO YOU THINK OVERLOADING IS OCCURRING ON NSW ROADS, AND WHO ARE THE MAIN OFFENDERS?

There’s indications that it’s a daily event. And people that are moving house and are looking to do some DIY home renovations that aren’t fully compliant with loading laws are the ones giving us the most grief.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE OTHER MOST FREQUENT CAUSES OF UTE OVERLOADING?

Interestingly, in the rural part of NSW – especially in the lead-up to winter – it’s been people carting firewood.

We’re finding utes and trailers that are being significantly overloaded. And as well as there being the risk that the firewood is going to fall onto the road and pose a safety hazard, the weight of the load is also going to impact on the vehicle’s ability to brake and manoeuvre properly.

ANY TIPS FOR UTE DRIVERS LOOKING TO KEEP THEIR LOADS SAFER ON THE ROADS?

There’s plenty of information available digitally these days on the Roads and Maritime Services website where drivers can go in and look about how loads can be secured properly. Other groups such as the NRMA also publish similar information. And people should really be careful to read up and be informed before they carry a load on our roads.

HOW BIG SHOULD LOADS BE BEFORE UTE DRIVERS ARE LOOKING AT HOW THEY SHOULD SECURE IT PROPERLY?

The easiest answer there is that it’s about the vehicle. If that load is protruding out of the ute tray or out of the trailer and it’s unsecured, that load is a fail.

If you’re carrying a load on our roads, it needs to be safe and secured. We’re certainly appealing to all road users to re-think what they’re doing on our roads, and most importantly, use our roads safely.

To learn more about what leads to ute overloading, register here for Isuzu’s webinar, Is Your Load Killing Your Ute?

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