Police Caravan Weight Safety Checks at Newmerella Victoria

Aerial view of the rest stop in Newmerella where the operation was conducted showing a number of trailers lined up ready for inspection.

Here’s a very brief update on the Police Operation at Newmerella where caravan, campers and other larger trailers were checked for compliance with weight restrictions and other general requirements.

Victoria Police worked together with Vic Roads and the Sheriff’s department to conduct a major road safety operation that included blood alcohol checks, licence and registration checks, outstanding fines or registration payments and, in particular, safety checks of larger trailers including caravans, camper trailers and boat trailers.  This was conducted on the 4th and 5th January, 2017, at the rest stop in Newmerella Victoria on the busy Princess Highway.

With regards to caravan and trailer checks component of the operation, it was largely an education and safety awareness exercise. No one was fined for being overweight. I did see one defect notice issued to a driver who’s boat trailer had incorrectly rated tyres for the weight being carried.

Officers from Vic Police and Vic Roads with their checklists ready to begin the safety check of this caravan. The scales can be seen on the side of the road ready to use.
There were fines issued for drivers who did not have towing mirrors fitted where required.
Here you can see how the scales were used to measure the load on each wheel. The total weight was derived from the sum of all individual readings from each wheel.

A full report will be issued by the police on the results of the operation but I can tell you that overall most trailers were either right on their maximum weight or were overloaded. Some vehicles were also overloaded in terms of their tow ball load and rear axel loadings. Interestingly, many camper trailers were overloaded and this was a bit of a surprise to those of us observing proceedings.

Most drivers were appreciative of the information and guidance provided with many not being aware of the critical state of their rigs. A few were not entirely pleased especially if they had recieved assurances from the manufacturer of ther caravan of its weight carrying capabilities.

A number of drivers came to Newmerella specifically to have their rigs checked as did this couple with their new Elite caravan.

The day was observed by representatives from the Australian Caravan Club Ltd, Everything Caravan and Camping Facebook Group, the Caravanners’ Forum and other organisations. All were very impressed with the operation and how it was conducted. It was agreed that further promotion of the operation and its associated safety message must continue and all agreed to collaborate on achieving this outcome.

From my perspective, it was an extremely worthwhile exercise and it was a privilege to be there to watch the dedicated members of Vic Police and Vic Roads go about their work in a professional and helpful manner. I spoke to a number of drivers who had been tested and they were all appreciative of the advice and assistance offered. Many were grateful for having the opportunity to get their rigs checked.

Surprisingly, there were a large number of overweight camper trailers. Many owners not aware of their weight restrictions and limited cargo capacity.

Of particular note was the number of drivers who had heard about the operation on social media prior to the event and came down specifically to get their rigs checked. This, to me, is an amazing outcome that just goes to show that attitudes are changing and that people are genuinely wanting to ensure their rigs are legal.

This was the first real, widely publicised, safety operation specifically aimed at caravans, boats and all large trailers. The social media campaign of this operation had, to this point, reached well over 250,000 people who are members of the RV and boating communities. It is the start of a whole new approach that could have far reaching implications, not just for folks like ourselves, but for the manufacturers, law eforcement in other states, industry regulators, and so on. This is great momentum for continued improvements in towing safety.

I’ll be publishing a more detailed report later.  Until then, safe travels…!

8 thoughts on “Police Caravan Weight Safety Checks at Newmerella Victoria

  1. About time…as a vanner of 60 years and an emergency service responder I can see both sides of the coin but don’t like having to deal with the horrific events that sometimes result.
    Particularly the lack of mirrors and the danger this causes to the culprit and thier passengers.. But also to those responding to urgent calls under lights & siren when it becomes obvious the tower either has to wag the tail to see behind (dangerous in itself)or as some do..pretend they don’t hear our siren all.
    Next should come( if no truck licence is held) a licence class or test specifically for vanners.
    The large majority strive to do the right thing but some tend to ‘know everything’ and by example prove they know very little.
    Good work Police & ETA…Education is much more acceptable and embraced than enforcement is

    1. Hi Neil,

      Thanks for your comment. I too am in the emergency services as an SES volunteer in a road crash rescue unit. Its one of the reasons I am quite passionate about supporting this cause. I was also very pleased with the educational approach taken. Certainly had drivers more open to a discussion about their particular circumstances and willing to do something about it.

      I’m in two minds about the licence thing. On one had I see the sense in having some sort of endorsement expecially if you want to tow something over 2.5t but I’m not a huge fan of more red tape for the sake of it. Perhaps if it was some sort of basic course that you could do at home over the internet that covered basics like correct loading and how to handle a sway situation, that would be better than nothing and likely have a much greater takeup.

      One thing is for sure. This operation is just the beginning. I reckion we will see more of this and the focus will eventually move from education to enforcement.

  2. Goodaye, I am an interstate truckie and we all want to get home safely too. Whilst we do many courses etc for our licenses, there is a concern that those with bigger rigs, like fifth wheelers etc are now in something nearing the size, if not the full weight, of a semi trailer with no requirement for any test or license. There are many terrific and safe vanners, but there are always new people coming in and many may have never towed a van before. So how can we all ensure they at least have some clue as to what they are getting into?

    Not all are in clubs where they may get some help and not all will read the magazines, and that may not be enough. I had hoped there could be a video done between the trucking industry and the vanning community that would cover the basics and sharing the road with trucks, including UHF Channel 18 etc.

    This initiative is a terrific step forward and whilst I have heard many complain of such an event targeting vanners, many have for too long got away (luckily for them) with a combination not perfectly legal and possibly unsafe. It is good to see those who travelled to use it and I look forward to more and then, having safer time on the roads for all. Cheers Rod Hannifey http://www.truckright.com.au

    1. Hello Ron and thank you for your comments.

      I would like to think that everyone on the roads, regardless of the vehicle they drive, wants to get home safely. Unfortunately, there is a minority in all cases that seem to be hell bent on the complete oposite.

      I spoke to a lot of drivers who were pull in for a weight check and all but maybe one or two were completely happy with and satisfied with the initiative and grateful for being educated and informed about a topic that, many, had not even considered before. I wouldn’t pay much attention to the the naysayers complaining about it on social media. Most of these people are likely to be trolls just fishing for an arguement. As far as I’m concerned, all they have achieved is to demonstrate their own ignorance.

      I personally believe the caravan and RV industry could learn a lot from the trucking industry especially in regards to your chain of responsibility culture. Can you imagine if the responsibility for safety was equally shared by the regulators, the manufacturers, the dealers and the owners of RVs? Imagine if that extended further to being accountable in the event of an accident. We would have a very differnet world.

      I believe we are now well on the road to a better arrangement. The awareness this operation has created will push RV owners to seek out the information they need. With new public weighbridges opening in Victoria over the next few years, the oportunity for self service weight checks increases in this state at least. Prospective buyers will also see this and start to demand more from the dealer and/or manufacturer of their new RV.

      It’s not going to happen over night, but it will happen.

    2. “I had hoped there could be a video done between the trucking industry and the vanning community that would cover the basics and sharing the road with trucks, including UHF Channel 18 etc.”

      Wouldn’t that be awesome – from both sides of the fence.

      1. Hey Bird or do I call you Bruce…? I think you’ll find now that education and awareness will become more widespread and the sort of approach you describe may well be developed. Perhaps we can get a few guys together and do this ourselves. Wouldn’t be difficult.

  3. Dear all,
    What a great initiative. I have been in the transport industry for 35 years. I have met all types and sorts in that time. I subscribe to the 80/20 rule, being 80% of the humans on the planet are genuinely doing the right thing, and 20% couldn’t care less.

    The Highway is our workplace. We spend 40-60hours a week on it. We do this year in and year out. If you get frustrated during your 2 hour a day commute, or your annual road trip by other drivers, imagine what we see and absorb on a daily basis.

    When in charge of a semi trailer, If I am found to be overweight when directed over a weighbridge, I wear a $660 fine. Hence I haven’t driven an overweight vehicle in 34 years. I hope I’m one of the 80%.

    In the very first instance there needs to be a significant drive to comply with the existing legislation. Performance of over weight vehicles of any type has a significant impact on there braking, handling, stability and ability to handle a emergency situation.

    I want my wife, my son, my daughter, my mother, my drivers and my self to get home from the highway safe every day regardless of what they are driving.

    The individuals are responsible for being safe and compliant.
    After 35 years, the time has come to comply or not be on the road.

    Please continue with this very important initiative and be responsible for you own actions.

    Regards and Best wishes to all.

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