Despite years of Chain of Responsibility Laws and the work of the NTC and the NHVR, governments have not addressed this issue. The Toll, Calder Highway deaths and injuries, following the Cootes, Mona Vale deaths and injuries, are just two examples of unnecessary exposure of the public to unacceptable risks. The fuel not igniting saved this from being a national disaster greater than Cootes. The contamination of the waterway with fuel and fire suppression material is also unacceptable.
Emergency services were called to the Calder Freeway on Tuesday when the Toll petrol tanker travelling outbound collided with a number of vehicles. The truck has then struck a number of other cars. One car was crushed under the truck during the incident and investigators are still in the process of determining how many people were in that vehicle, however at least one person has been confirmed deceased. Six others were transported to hospital with injuries including the truck driver.
Being the “norm” does not make it acceptable for exposure of people to certain death. This is not required. This is not effective or efficient. This is illogical conduct at 8AM for a weekday morning to have a Petrol Tanker in peak traffic.
While supply of petrol is essential, there is no basis for peak hour transport of fuel.
Peak hour traffic correlates with:
– Higher number of vehicles on the road
– Greater number of incidents per hour than other times of the day
– Greater congestion, with more stop start traffic, especially at on/off ramps
All factors making it certain for a city peak hour collision involving a petrol tanker.
Petrol Tankers are inherently dangerous and bring with them hazards of:
– Multiple deaths (collision and fire)
– Multiple injuries (collision and fire)
– Escape of fuel into the environment and potential fire
– Potential for immolation and damage to public infrastructure
– A broader impact than conventional heavy vehicles
All factors having catastrophic consequences for petrol tanker collisions.
Managing this certain and catastrophic consequence is left to the effectiveness of heavy vehicle drivers. This simplistic approach can be further compromised by:
– Lack of maintenance and/or defective equipment
– Tired driver or stressed driver (even if complying with fatigue rules)
– Poor or changed driving conditions
– Conduct of other road users and extra congestion
Directors and Executives who expose the public to certain death in peak periods should assess the risk and whether they are breaking not only COR Laws but also the WHS Laws in failing to eliminate the hazard.
Directors and Executives could potentially be held directly and personally liable under WHS for peak hour petrol tanker incidents, especially given the limited practical reach of the NHV law in the Cootes Mona Vale deaths.