Truckie: 'Don't turn us away'
A DARLING Downs truck driver has questioned the safety practices of feedlots when it comes to accepting overloaded trucks.
The driver, who spoke to Big Rigs on the condition of anonymity, said it was apparently policy at Mort and Co feedlots at Grassdale at Dalby and Pinegrove at Millmerran to turn away overloaded vehicles.
While he acknowledged that drivers should not be arriving at feedlots overloaded, he said the feedlots should not be turning the drivers away.
He said signage at both feedlots told drivers: "We do not have to unload a non-compliant truck. Operators may indicate that we have to unload them, rather than send them back out. This is not the case. The operator of the truck is responsible for ensuring they are loaded and operating below the maximum legal limit. They travelled to us heavy, they can travel away from us heavy if they can't hit the weight".
While he himself had not been turned away, the driver said he knew of a truckie who arrived at Pinegrove a couple of months ago and was 200kg over the limit.
"That's not a fineable offence and they sent him back out onto the highway, it's about a 2km-long driveway and they wouldn't let him split up inside to make it legal," he said.
"They sent him back to the main road to an area to split up the B-double and that's against the law."
The driver, an owner- operator who had been in the industry for 46 years, said "something needed to be done" about the situation.
He suggested instead of turning the overloaded trucks away, that drivers were given several warnings before being told they were not able to unload or be fined.
He said he had contacted the feedlot and told them about his concerns.
Mort and Co did not return several requests for comment.
A Transport and Main Roads spokesperson said they were working with Queensland's grain receivers, transport operators and the NHVR to ensure there was a clear understanding about loading and mass compliance responsibilities.
"TMR has been in recent contact with the industry to minimise the recurrence of loads being turned away from feedlot receival points when they are overloaded," the spokesperson said.
"We have become aware of a small number of grain transport operators recently being turned away from some feedlots in the Darling Downs area due to potential overloading.
"It is understood that these operators were transporting grain from the Port of Brisbane.
"We do not condone overloaded heavy vehicles being turned back onto the road network from a grain receival point. This action potentially raises road safety and infrastructure damage risks."
TMR said the preferred approach would be the load was accepted and the excess portion of the load forfeited, so there was no incentive to overload.
The spokesperson said there was no legal obligation for a grain receival point to accept a load as a private commercial entity.
"In the context of Chain of Responsibility legislation, it is highly unlikely that a receival point would be found liable for an overloading offence if they had no controlling influence over the transport activity prior to the load reaching their premises," they said.
The spokesperson said the penalties faced for drivers who were overloaded depended on the magnitude of non-compliance when weighed at the roadside.
"In some instances, these infringements could result in a magistrates court appearance in severe overloading situations," they said.
"For example, 120 per cent of regulated mass limits is considered a severe overload."
Offences against loading requirements were contained in the Heavy Vehicle National Law Act 2012 and could potentially incur a maximum penalty of up to $10,000, they said.
The spokesperson said it would be unusual for TMR to be involved when an overloaded grain truck arrived at a feedlot, unless there were circumstances raised by the feedlot that would require attendance at the facility - for example, numerous overloading events by one transport operator.
A National Heavy Vehicle Regulator spokeswoman said the issue was being investigated.