Family call for tighter truck load code

LYN HUMPHREYS
Last updated 05:00 18/02/2014

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Transport authorities are scrutinising the Trucking Loading Code following calls to ensure there are no more deaths on New Zealand roads caused by insecure loads of heavy pipes.

Urenui couple Ern and Nancy Sutton, both 83, were crushed to death when a 25-tonne load of steel pipes spilled off a truck and trailer at Motunui on May 28, 2012, hitting their car.

Last week in the High Court in New Plymouth the truck driver Henry Tawhai, 55, of Palmerston North pleaded guilty to a charge of criminal nuisance in not correctly securing the load.

The Sutton family, who believes similar loads are still on the roads, now want immediate action to stop others being killed.

New Zealand Transport Agency spokesman Andy Knackstedt said yesterday the agency would review the findings of the crash investigation "and work with the industry to make any revisions to the code which can improve safety and prevent a similar tragedy from occurring in the future".

Mr Sutton said according to recommendations made to the sentencing judge, New Zealand should adopt the Australian trucking code, which would make similar loads, where pipes were put within bigger pipes, illegal.

"This would mean we would never see this type of load and the road again," family spokesman Warren Sutton said.

"We challenge those in higher authority than us to get on the phone now and prohibit them from being on the road until the code is upgraded. If this does not occur further deaths will occur on our roads."

The officer in charge of the investigation, Detective Paul Barron, does not believe similarly dangerous loads are on the roads.

After the fatal crash, the trucking industry would have taken action to ensure nothing similar occurred.

Justice Toogood released experts' recommendations to the Taranaki Daily News last week.

They are:

That the New Zealand Truck Loading Code be updated and brought into line with the Australian Code which has been updated after a three-year review completed 10 years ago.

The Australian code covers a more diverse range of loads, including rigid long-length loads such as those involved in this incident which are not adequately covered in the NZTLC.

The NZ Code in its current form is difficult for the industry to understand and implement and the latest Australian Code could easily be adapted to meet New Zealand legal requirements.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said no date had been set for a coroner's inquest into the deaths.

"The coroner is waiting for the sentencing notes from the High Court before he talks to the family."

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Until then, no decision had been made on an inquiry.

- Taranaki Daily News

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