Stuck trucks: new measures to punish operators

Over-height trucks that wedge themselves in tunnels and block traffic will have their registration suspended for up to three months under new regulations announced on Wednesday.

The measures, which add to already heavy fines and penalties for drivers who fail to head height or length limits, follow a number of incidents where trucks have blocked tunnels and added to Sydney's already crippling traffic.

Roads Minister Duncan Gay said that by the end of June it would also be easier for Roads and Maritime Services to pursue trucking companies for the cost of removing over-height trucks from tunnels and over-length trucks from narrow passes.

"I think everyone in Sydney in recent times has experienced the inconvenience where people inexplicably driven heavy vehicles either into a tunnel, or ... Galston Gorge and held up traffic and stopped the commerce and the family life for people in this city for minutes, hours, and nearly days in some cases," Mr Gay said.

In Sydney, over-height trucks can become wedged in the M5 tunnel, the Sydney Harbour Tunnel, and under a number of rail bridges and overpasses.

In November, an over-height truck caused extensive damage to the ceiling of the M5 tunnel after driving for at least 200 metres down the tunnel.

There is also a history of long trucks getting stuck on the tight bends of the Galston Gorge, between Galston and Hornsby.

In the past year there have been 12 trucks fined for getting stuck in the Gorge, where there is a length restriction of 7.5 metres.

Every time this happens it takes a minimum of 30 minutes to remove a truck, according to the government, and the process can take as long as four hours.

For drivers, penalties of $2200 and the loss of six demerit points already apply for driving into areas over-height or over-length, but the measures announced on Wednesday will target the companies they work for.

Under the measures, the drivers will not have their licences automatically suspended. Instead, the truck will be suspended for three months. This will also apply to over-height trucks.

It will also become easier to pursue trucking companies for financial damages, Mr Gay said.

"We will be changing the regulations so that the chain of responsibility will now, at our discretion, be able to be applied to people that have dispatched those vehicles," the minister said.

"If they've put them on an incorrect route, they will have to bear part of that cost. At the very least, the company that employs these drivers and these operators will know that they face potentially the costs of what's happening."

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