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Rider’s call for cargo nets rejected

Rodney Brown Rider's call for ute tarps rejected bike lanes
Rodney Brown

A rider’s call for ute and truck tarps and/or cargo nets, as in Queensland, has been rejected by the Victorian Department of Transport.

Longtime motorcycle advocate Rodney Brown (pictured above) says debris from utes and trucks is particularly dangerous to vulnerable motorcycle, scooter and bicycle riders.

He should know; he suffered multiple injures and wrote off his bike when he crashed on Riddells Creek Bridge after hitting a slippery liquid that had spilt out of a 15-litre white bucket that had fallen off the back of a vehicle.

So in 2018, he started a campaign to get utes and trucks to secure their loads with a tarp or cargo net as in Queensland where the fine starts at $200.

Qld secured load
A Queensland ute with a mandatory cargo net over its load

Cargo nets rejected

Despite Rod’s many protestations to government, Transport Department spokesman Roger Chao has now rejected the move, saying they are “not the ideal solution for all circumstances”.

“Victoria’s laws require the operator to restrain a vehicle’s load down securely so that it does not come off,” he says.

The rules are similar in other states such as NSW.

“It is the operator’s responsibility to assess the most appropriate method to secure the load for each particular set of conditions. Therefore, we maintain our position that it would not be adequate to mandate a specific method to use on all vehicles types when carrying different loads.

Unsecured load in a ute cargo
Unsecured load in the back of a Victorian ute

Under current Victorian law, motorists can be fined up to $11,000 if their load falls off their vehicle and causes a crash.

Yet there is no specific law requiring loads to be covered as there is in most other states which stipulate penalties for not securing a load properly.

Such laws are preventative, rather than the Victorian punitive rule that only applies a penalty if load debris causes a crash.

Rod says VicRoads only suggests “nets and tarpaulins may be used to restrain lighter items”.

He proposed that all light vehicles such as cars, utes, vans, trailers (including boats on trailers) and trucks (gross vehicle mass up to 4.5 tonnes) must be covered with a approved tarp or cargo net so that nothing can escape.

“This is a no-brainer, based on the costs involved with doing nothing,” he says.

“I have gone as far as possible with this current Victorian government.

“The next step will be to take this issue up with a newly elected government.

“Examples of this approach was getting filtering and new road riding assessment of L riders happening due to a change of government. Thank heavens other states don’t think like our Victorian government does. Towards Zero – what a joke.”

Unsecured loads

In 2017, a Queensland driver was fined $275 after a motorcyclist hit a mattress that fell off the back of his ute in the Clem 7 tunnel.

We have published several stories about unsecured debris falling off trucks and utes.

Australian authorities receive tens of thousands of callouts a year to collect debris from our roads.

It includes household goods, building materials and green waste, causing road closures, disruptions, injuries and deaths.

Most vulnerable to these unsecured loads are motorcyclists.

Rod says the Victorian Traffic Accident Commission does not keep statistics relating to deaths and injuries caused by loose debris.

“There is obviously a need to collect more data on road safety,” he says.

Many riders have witnessed all sorts of things flying off the backs of trucks and pick-ups, but the worst culprits seem to be tradies.

Perhaps they are in a rush to get home or to the next job, but too many don’t secure their loads properly.

Take a look at the side of our freeways. They are littered with tradies’ hard hats, rubber boots, gloves and tools.

Other motorists to avoid are weekend gardeners taking their load to the dump in a hired trailer.

They are not professional transport operators, so they don’t know how to secure a load properly. Give them a wide berth.

Have you crashed because of an unsecured load? Leave your comments in the box below.