AWhangarei man behind the wheel of a truck with only a car licence was nabbed speeding in a heavy motor vehicle police deemed was unsafe and ordered off the road.

The three-axle dump truck was spotted by officers patrolling near Waipu on State Highway 1 as part of an early morning sting targeting heavy motor vehicles flouting the the law yesterday. It caught police attention when the speed radar recorded 103km/h - 13km/h over the legal speed limit of 90km for heavy motor vehicles and those towing a trailer.

On closer inspection a tyre was deemed unsafe as was the exhaust and the vehicle did not have a current certificate of fitness - the equivalent of a warrant of fitness for a car. And a check of the driver revealed he was only licensed to drive a car.

The truck was "pink stickered" meaning it was off the road until the repairs were completed. The driver - who was forbidden from driving a heavy motor vehicle - and a passenger were given a lift closer to Whangarei.

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Northland road policing manager Inspector Wayne Ewers said police had received a number of calls about speeding heavy motor vehicles early in the morning. Those complaints, combined with the number of recent crashes in Northland involving trucks, sparked the two-day operation.

"If they are 5km/h over the limit they will be issued a ticket. There is no tolerance for heavy motor vehicles speeding," Mr Ewers said.

Police were prepared to shift rosters so there were officers out on the highways at 4am.

"We know there are large numbers of heavy motor vehicles on our roads at 3am. These early morning shifts will become a monthly operation," Mr Ewers said.

He said it was disappointing to find heavy motor vehicles that had a number of defects that made them unsafe to be on the road. Foggy and wet weather conditions yesterday did not slow some truck drivers with two separate trucks being stopped on SH14 near Maunu for travelling 99km/h in a 70km/h zone. Another was spotted on the northern side of Smeaton's travelling 101km/h.

Some of the drivers spoken to were apologetic and realised they were in the wrong. One truck logging truck driver, with a full load, headed for Port Marsden highway failed to give way to a marked patrol car on a roundabout. A subsequent check of the load revealed it was in breach of the weight regulations.

On Tuesday a logging truck stopped at Te Kopuru, near Dargaville, was temporarily off the road after it was discovered two trailer tyres were worn down to the steel chords. The lights and indicators were not working and when weighed it was discovered the load was overweight.

A senior police commercial vehicle inspector said there would not be a week in Northland that a heavy vehicle was ordered of the road because it was unsafe.