Bolstering safety on South Eastern Freeway

The Marshall Government has announced tough new offences and penalties will come into effect on May 1 this year for drivers of trucks and buses who are detected driving unsafely on the down-track of the South Eastern Freeway.

Truck and bus drivers caught committing low gear and speeding offences (by 10km/h or more but less than 20km/h) could now receive a six-month licence disqualification, lose six demerit points and an expiation fee of $1036.

Previously, only an expiation fee of $364 and $379 and 3 demerit points applied for the same offences, respectively.

The amendments to the Road Traffic Act 1961, Motor Vehicles Act 1959 and supporting regulations aim to improve road safety on the South Eastern Freeway and reduce heavy vehicle crashes involving brake failure and excessive speed. 

The amendments implement recommendations from a Coronial Inquest following two serious crashes in 2010 and 2014 involving out-of-control heavy vehicles that tragically resulted in loss of lives and serious injuries.

“The Marshall Government is implementing tough new laws to keep motorists and the public safe around the South Eastern Freeway,” said Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government Stephan Knoll.

“Unfortunately, the bottom of the South Eastern Freeway has been the site of some absolutely tragic accidents in recent years.

“The Marshall Government is implementing these legislative and regulatory changes to crack down on those truck and bus drivers who are driving unsafely and putting the public in harm’s way.

“These tough new penalties will act as an even greater deterrent to those thinking about doing the wrong thing and driving unsafely putting others at risk.

“All road users have a significant responsibility to other motorists and the general public to drive responsibly and safely.

“However, truck and bus drivers have an even greater responsibility because clearly the vehicles they operate pose a greater risk to the community when not driven safely and appropriately.

“Truck and bus drivers must adhere to the lower speed limit for their vehicles and use a low gear to limit the speed of their vehicle without the use of a primary brake.

“If they don’t, drivers could face much harsher penalties including the loss of six demerit points and licence disqualification for a first offence.”

Offences and Penalties

When descending the South Eastern Freeway, truck and bus drivers must:

  • Use a gear that is low enough to limit the speed of the vehicle without the use of a primary brake; and,
  • Not drive at a speed in excess of the relevant speed limit. Note: Trucks and buses are limited to a maximum speed of 60km/h on the SE Freeway down-track, however speeds may be further reduced via the variable speed limit signs or other temporary speed limit signs at any time to maintain safe travel. This may include inclement weather, reduced visibility or as a result of a crash or roadworks, etc.

From May 1, 2019, truck or bus drivers whose vehicles are not engaged in a low gear, as described above, or exceed the relevant speed limit by 10km/h or more will receive:

  • An expiation fee of $1036 plus six demerit points, plus:
    • Six-month licence disqualification for a first offence
    • 12-month licence disqualification for a second offence
    • Three-year licence disqualification for subsequent offences
  • Where convicted by the court, a first offence will attract a maximum fine of $5000, plus six demerit points and a licence disqualification of no less than 12 months. Subsequent offences will attract six demerit points, a licence disqualification of no less than three years and up to two years imprisonment.

These new penalties only apply to the portion of the down-track of the SE Freeway as indicated on the attached map, ending at the intersection of Portrush, Cross and Glen Osmond Roads.

Existing speeding penalties continue to apply to trucks and buses that exceed the relevant speed limit by less than 10km/h on this stretch of road after May 1, 2019.

Business vehicles detected speeding

The new penalties will also see a substantial increase in the body corporate levy which will apply to businesses who fail to nominate the driver responsible for a camera-detected speeding offence on the SE Freeway down-track.

This levy will increase from $300 to $25,000.  A body corporate that successfully nominates the responsible driver will not incur the body corporate levy.