A Victorian rider who crashed his motorcycle in slippery debris dropped from the unsecured load in the back of a truck is seeking mandatory cargo nets and tarpaulins on all trucks and utes.
Rodney Brown says 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 a the back of a vehicle.
“The liquid turned out to be a slippery oily substance which my bike skidded on,” he says.
“I came off the bike on to the road significantly injuring myself. In attendance were the crews of the ambulance, CFA, police and the accident was that serious that a decision on whether the air ambulance was needed had to be made.
“The cost of ambulance transport alone was $3145.92. At the time my motorcycle was deemed a write-off.
“My crash would have been avoided if unsecured loads of all light vehicles in Victoria by law had to be be covered with either a tarp or netting, as per current Queensland law, where offenders are fined $243 and lose demerit points if they do not comply.”
Vic load law
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”.
“What I propose is 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 (even if carrying only one gumboot),” he says.
“This is a no-brainer, based on the costs involved with doing nothing.”
He says the safety issue affects cyclists as well as motorcyclists.
Rod has forwarded his request to Victorian Roads Minister Luke Donnellan and has so far not received a response.
A Queensland ute with a mandatory cargo net over its load
He says he recently saw a large piece of plywood fly off the back of a ute about 100m ahead of his bike on a 100km/h stretch of the Calder Highway at night.
“It bounced across the freeway in front of traffic into the trees off to the left side of the road,” he says.
“Not a minute later I saw two similar large square objects lying on the road which because I did not have time to dodge them (to try to do so would have been dangerous) I had to ride over them.
“They were in fact additional big pieces of plywood that had fallen off the back of the ute that had an unsecured load.
“I was lucky that I was not closer to the ute when they came off or they could have hit me and caused me serious harm not to mention cause me to swerve into traffic and have an accident. It was dangerous enough riding over part of the load.”
Last year 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.