Trucking company fined

Last updated 10:32 16/01/2013

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A Te Awamutu trucking company has been fined just over $21,000 and its drivers pinged for numerous driving offences.

Waikato police said yesterday’s sentencing in the Te Awamutu District Court was in relation to an investigation into hundreds of breaches of worktime and logbook provisions by the company.

Area manager for the midland commercial vehicle investigation unit, Senior Sergeant Lex Soepnel, said the investigation took place between February and March last year.

"In total, during the course of our investigation 539 offences were detected resulting in 53 representative charges being laid against the company while another 546 offences were detected resulting in 59 representative charges being laid against 13 drivers and one owner driver."

Mr Soepnel said it was disappointing that in August the company claimed driver time cards, crucial to the investigation, had been destroyed. However the cards were provided to investigators by the company’s lawyer in October.

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

"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. With the Waikato also recording the highest road toll for 2012 (45 deaths) you can be assured similar operations are planned for this year.

The company was fined just over $21,000 and the drivers were fined between $200 and $350 each while also being banned from driving heavy vehicles for a month.

The company's lawyer and Police agreed on a rolling schedule of suspensions so the company can keep operating while its drivers serve their one-month licence disqualifications.

"This is a win-win situation for the company, Police and local community," Mr Soepnel said. "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.

He said fatigued drivers were similar to those 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."

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