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NZ Transport Agency revoking certifications for heavy vehicle towbars

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The NZ Transport Agency is revoking the certifications for the towbars fitted to 802 heavy vehicles due to serious safety concerns.

Revocation notices are being sent to the owners of 802 heavy vehicles fitted with towbars certified by Peter Wastney Engineering Ltd.

The revocation action is being taken to address concerns identified through visual inspections of vehicles carried out by specialist certifiers as part of the NZ Transport Agency’s response to broader safety issues relating to Peter Wastney Engineering Ltd.

The inspections have been carried out following the issuing of a heavy vehicle safety alert by the Transport Agency on 14 February 2018 which required the operators of vehicles with affected towbars, drawbeams, or drawbars to urgently have them cleaned and inspected for signs of cracks or other failures, carry out daily inspections before use and discontinue using the vehicles if any cracks or failures were found.

The heavy vehicle safety alert was issued in response to an investigation carried out by the Transport Agency following an on-road drawbeam failure in August 2017 which resulted in a heavy trailer disconnecting from a truck and struck an embankment on SH6 near Nelson. As part of that investigation an independent engineering review was undertaken, which established that some towing connections were not adequately designed for the loads to which they had been certified by Peter Wastney Engineering Ltd.  Mr Wastney’s status as an approved heavy vehicle certifier was suspended in September 2017, and he has since surrendered his certification authority.

NZTA Operational Standards Manager Craig Basher says visual inspections of tow bars carried out by specialist certifiers since the publication of the safety notice indicated that 61 of 62 towbars inspected were not fit for purpose and could potentially fail while in use on the road.

“Given these findings we are taking immediate action to revoke the certifications for all towbars certified by Peter Wastney Engineering Ltd in order to address the serious safety risks involved. These towbars will need to be removed, replaced, or inspected and re-certified by an approved independent heavy vehicle specialist engineer. The vehicles may continue to operate on the road in the interim, provided the towbars are not used.” 

The majority of the affected vehicles are located in the Nelson, Marlborough, Tasman and West Coast areas. Mr Basher says the Transport Agency is aware of the significant impact this action will have on vehicle owners.

“We understand what this action means and the potential disruption it may cause, and this is not a decision we have taken lightly. Given the evidence to hand we believe it is imperative to take this action to protect the safety of road users. To lessen the impact on owners, we have issued exemptions to allow the vehicles to continue to operate on the road in the interim, provided the towing connections are not used.”

The Transport Agency is sending the revocation notices to the owners of affected vehicles today. 

Mr Basher says visual inspections of 23 affected heavy vehicle drawbeams and drawbars by specialist certifiers have also raised concerns, with at least one drawbar requiring immediate repair. An urgent review of the certification documents and engineering assessments for the drawbeams and drawbars fitted to another 700 heavy trucks and trailers covered by the safety alert is now underway, in order to determine if further revocations or other actions are required.

More information can be found on our website at www.nzta.govt.nz/pwe-revocation

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