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Trailer coupling alert

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An alert has been issued by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator after the crash in Victoria in recent weeks, when a dog trailer separated from the truck and killed three people in two cars. This is the first such alert the NHVR has issued since taking responsibility for regulating the trucking industry earlier this year.


“Our mission is to facilitate, innovate, regulate and issuing timely safety advice to industry is one of the key tasks of a national regulator,” said Sal Petroccitto, NHVR CEO. “Our advice to operators who are working with dog trailers, pig trailers and road train dollies is that they should read this safety advice closely and should consider actions they can take to assure the integrity of their trailer or dolly coupling systems, with a particular focus on the tow eye fitment.


“Our safety and compliance alert outlines the facts so far and identifies issues for operators to consider should they undertake inspections. I need to stress that the frontline investigation continues to be led by Victoria Police and we are providing this advice without comment as to any contributory cause to the collision.


“As a national regulator, we are very aware that safety doesn’t stop at the border. We are working with our frontline compliance arms in all states to make sure the right information is shared across all agencies and to determine what coordinated action authorities can take to prevent this happening again. I acknowledge the support of Victoria Police and the Victorian Transport Industry Enforcement Liaison Committee for their support in preparing our first safety alert.”


The alert itself explains the accident was caused when the coupling between the tanker and tanker trailer failed. It was fitted with a typical tow eye bolt connected to an auto-tow coupler on the truck. Investigators have found the thread on the nut and the rear of the bolt has failed, resulting in the he tow eye bolt pulling out from the tow eye housing block on the drawbar of the trailer.


Truck and dog, and road train, operators are urged to ensure their maintenance system will detect any looseness in the fitting of a tow eye. The NHVR experts suggest this component is not easily tested by hand and any looseness may not be visible when a trailer is stationary after braking.


The NHVR also recommends operators take the opportunity to review how their inspection system detects other possible issues, such as cracks in the tow eye housing block or any kinks or cracks in the drawbar. It also suggests they consider voluntarily fitting supplementary chains (safety chains) to heavy trailer drawbars.


The alert can be downloaded at the NHVR website. 

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