Heavy vehicle drivers targeted in police blitz Operation Austrans

Heavy vehicle drivers are in the spotlight as police across the country continue a targeted blitz on the industry.

Operation Austrans Phase Two began last Monday and will run across Australia and New Zealand until Saturday, December 9.

The 13-day operation focuses on heavy vehicle illegal activities such as drink- and drug-driving, speed, general traffic offences, fatigue, compliance and driver behaviour issues within the road transport industry.

Bendigo Senior Sergeant Ian Brooks said police would be monitoring vehicles passing through the region, as well as those originating from here.

“We’ll be breath-testing heavy vehicle drivers and we’ll also be drug-testing those who we feel the need to as well,” he said.

The first phase of the operation ran in March and Senior Sergeant Brooks said local drivers performed pretty good.

“The pleasing thing for us is the transport industry is relatively well-behaved, especially in our part of the world,” he said.

The first day of the operation began with a national day of drug-testing, of which no heavy vehicle drivers returned a positive test in central Victoria.

Across the state, four drivers returned a positive result out of 173 preliminary drug tests. 

Victoria Police Road Policing Operations Superintendent John Fitzpatrick said heavy vehicles continued to be over-represented in road trauma, despite efforts to improve safety standards in the transport sector.

“Comprising less than four per cent of the national road fleet, heavy vehicles are involved in around 17 per cent of road fatalities nationally,” Superintendent Fitzpatrick said. 

But he said it was not all operators doing the wrong thing.

“The majority of the transport sector work very hard to adhere to and strive for safe and compliant industry practices. It is the minority that tarnish the perception of the industry and this is who we are targeting.”