The NZ Transport Agency is putting the owners and drivers of trucks exceeding legal weight limits when they use the extension or clip-on lanes on the Auckland Harbour Bridge on notice that their details will be passed on to Police for further action.
The NZTA’s decision to provide vehicle details to Police follows a year-long trial of new technology installed on the bridge to identify and monitor overweight vehicles among the 8000 or so heavy trucks using the bridge daily. Data collected during the trial indicates that:
“Most heavy vehicles respect the rules, but that small number who don’t, makes disappointing and unacceptable reading,” says the NZTA’s State Highways Manager for Auckland and Northland, Tommy Parker. “Too many trucks heavier than the legal maximum of 44 tonnes are using the extension lanes illegally. It is critical that everyone observes the rules so that we can keep to our plans of extending the economic life of the recently strengthened extension lanes for 20 years or more without the need to restrict access for trucks.”
The NZTA is working with the freight industry to take a tougher line against overweight vehicles.
As part of this initiative, the NZTA has installed cameras on the bridge linked to weight sensors located on the approaches to the bridge. The cameras are activated when the sensors detect vehicles weighing more than 44 tonnes, and they record the registration plates of offending vehicles.
Mr Parker says while the NZTA does not have legal powers to prosecute, the agency can pass on details of overweight vehicles to the Police so that those vehicles can be weighed at another location. A truck’s registration, warrant of fitness and road user charges can also be checked.
“That is now a real option for us,” says Mr Parker. “The harbour bridge is such an important link for Auckland’s communities and for New Zealand, and the NZTA is committed to managing it to ensure safe and efficient travel for all those who rely on it.“
“Most in the freight industry stick to the law. But we are determined to stop the minority of repeat offenders who don’t.”
The National Road Carriers Association, an organisation representing the freight industry, says it wants a fair and level playing field for everyone.
“The great majority of our operators and drivers play their part in protecting infrastructure and keeping highways safe, but it’s that small number who don’t respect the law that we want to stop,” says the NRC’s executive director David Aitken.
Mr Parker says the volume of freight traffic using the Auckland Harbour Bridge is continuing to increase as the city grows.
“We’ve just completed a big project to strengthen the extension lanes, and it is essential that truck drivers observe weight limits now so that we can keep to our long term plans of having all lanes on the bridge available to carry freight.”
“Using the cameras and weight sensors to help ensure the weight rules are followed to get the maximum economic life from the clip-ons will benefit all drivers who rely on the bridge,” Mr Parker.
Mr Parker says the NZTA has no plans to extend the use of cameras to monitor other vehicles.