Trucking company fined $21,000


A trucking company that committed hundreds of breaches of work time and logbook protocols has been fined $21,000 and its 14 drivers have been fined up to $350 each.


The company, based at Te Awamutu, has been found to have committed 539 offences, resulting in 53 representative charges in February and March last year.


Police said another 546 offences were detected and 59 representative charges laid against 14 drivers, which included the company's owner.


In August the company claimed the driver time cards, crucial to the investigation, had been destroyed before they were passed on to investigators by the company's lawyers two months later, Senior Sergeant Lex Soepnel said.


As a result, the company was also charged with failing to produce records, an offence that carries a maximum penalty of $100,000.


Yesterday the company was fined just more than $21,000 in the Te Awamutu District Court, a result Soepnel said was "a win-win situation for the company, police and the local community".


"What this allows is a visible deterrent to be imposed while at the same time keeping the drivers in employment.


It's all about prevention and this way we hope to educate people of the risks."


The drivers were fined between $200 and $350 each and banned from driving heavy vehicles for a month.


Police agreed with the company's lawyers on a "rolling schedule of suspensions so the company can keep operating while its drivers serve their one-month licence disqualification".


The investigation was part of an operation targeting driver fatigue amongst truck drivers.


"Fatigued drivers are much like people driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, their ability to react is reduced, and when you add large truck and trailer units into the equation it can have catastrophic consequences," Soepnel said.


The operation was spurred by statistics for the Waikato District from 2011 that 52 people had died in 44 crashes, the country's highest road toll.


"When you consider fatigue was a contributing factor in 29 fatal crashes nationally in 2011 and 112 serious injury crashes you start to see why we carry out such preventative operations," Soepnel said.


"With the Waikato also recording the highest road toll for 2012, you can be assured similar operations are planned for this year."


Soepnel said he hoped the court fines would "serve as a deterrent" to drivers.


"Every road user, be they pedestrians, cyclists, car or truck drivers are entitled to expect safer journeys on our roads. While Police will continue to enforce compliance, road safety is everyone's responsibility."

- Hamilton News

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