Two weeks ago near Wodonga, two women and a boy were immediately pronounced dead when a four-axle trailer of a dog tanker separated from the BP towing truck. The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator was deeply involved in coordinating a safety audit of the national BP fleet in the aftermath.
The regulator has now issued its first safety and compliance alert to the industry after the results and observations of the crash investigators earlier.
The alert says that in this case, investigators have established that the rear of the bolt and the thread on the nut has failed. In addition, the tow eye bolt from the drawbar of the trailer has been displaced from the tow eye housing.
For those operators of these types of specifications, the following are just some of the advisory items:
* Take into consideration your maintenance system’s ability to detect any looseness in the tow eye’s fitting.
* This component cannot be easily tested by hand; and when a trailer is stationary after braking, any looseness may not be visible anymore.
* Reassess how your inspection program detects other possible issues including cracks or kinks in the drawbar or cracks in the tow eye housing (block).
* Take into consideration whether safety chains or supplementary chains should be fitted voluntarily to your large trailer drawbars.
* Only a qualified person should install any supplementary chains, and all safety chains must be regularly maintained and properly secured when being used.
NHVR Chief Executive Officer Sal Petroccitto mentioned that the alert was released prior to the completion of the investigation as it provided significant and practical advice that operators can promptly implement.
Petroccitto enumerated that their mission is to “facilitate, innovate, and regulate;” and issuing regular safety recommendations to the industry is one of the primary duties of a national Regulator.
He added that they would advice operators working with road train dollies, pig trailers, and dog trailers to closely read safety advice and undertake precautionary actions and measures to ensure the integrity of their dolly or trailer coupling systems—putting particular focus on their tow eye fitment.
Petroccitto explained that the safety and compliance alert outlines the details and determines the various issues that operators must consider if they will be conducting inspections. He further emphasised that the frontline investigation continues to be spearheaded by Victoria Police, concluding that the advice is being provided without comment to any contributory cause to the collision.
The NHVR’s national remit is also emphasised by Petroccitto as he said, “As a national regulator, we are very aware that safety doesn’t stop at the border.”
Petroccitto concluded that they are diligently working with frontline compliance arms across all the states to ensure that the right information is distributed among all agencies and to properly identify well-synchronised action that authorities can establish to prevent any similar incident recurring in the future.
Petroccitto acknowledged the support of the Enforcement Liaison Committee of the Victorian Transport Industry and the Victoria Police in the preparatory process of the first safety alert.