Main Roads patrols found no evidence of iron ore spillages in Mid West & left up to police to resolve

Jessica MoroneyMidwest Times
The windscreen of Fleur Thompson's vehicle after it was hit by an "iron ore missile".
Camera IconThe windscreen of Fleur Thompson's vehicle after it was hit by an "iron ore missile". Credit: Fleur Thompson/RegionalHUB

Reports of near-misses and smashed windscreens caused by iron ore rocks flying off trucks have been left in the hands of local police to resolve, with Main Roads saying they found no evidence of spillages during recent patrols.

The Shire of Murchison raised the issue at a WA Local Government Association Regional Road Group meeting two months ago.

Since then, Geraldton mother Fleur Thompson has revealed her scary close call when her windscreen was smashed by what she believes was spillage from a passing iron ore truck on the Geraldton-Mount Magnet Road in Geraldton last month.

Concerns are increasing that these incidents are happening hundreds of kilometres into the trucks’ journeys, prompting calls to ensure loads are secured and covered.

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Main Roads WA spokesperson Dean Roberts said since the report at the WALGA meeting on March 28, Main Roads had undertaken two patrols in the area, and during these periods, no instances of ore falling from trucks was observed.

“In April 2022, Main Roads contacted a number of transport operators who utilise the Geraldton-Mount Magnet Road, to remind them of their responsibilities as a Restricted Access Vehicle (RAV) operator operating on the State road network,” Mr Roberts said.

Mr Roberts said gathering evidence for these issues was difficult unless vehicles were stopped by transport inspectors or WA Police.

“If photos are taken by others then they must be prepared to give statements and attend court to attest that they took the photo, at what place and time and what they witnessed — the photos need to clearly show the registration numbers and the load falling off the vehicle,” he said.

Shire of Murchison president Ross Foulkes-Taylor raised the issue at the March WALGA meeting, and said these spillages should not be happening as some trucks were well into their trip when they occurred. He said he didn’t understand why Main Roads would say there were no instances observed.

“I don’t know why they would say that,” he said. “They can say what they like and we will keep on raising the issue.

“It could be that drivers are being asked to do things unrealistically, whether it’s the time frame, the size of loads — casual or slack loading — or bad quality vehicles.”

WALGA media and communications officer Jocelyn McLennan said WALGA did not have any comment to add, except that the issue was managed by local police.

“In regards to the regularity matters, of road safety breaches, those issues are managed and administered by the police in regards to the Road Traffic (Administration) Act 2008 and Road Traffic (Vehicles) Act 2012 and also the Department of Transport,” she said.

Geraldton Traffic Police OIC Sgt Ron Pace said local police had been made aware of such incidents by information coming from drivers who had been impacted by spillages, as well as complaints from Main Roads and the City of Greater Geraldton.

“Geraldton police are paying attention to trucks with insecure loads,” Sgt Pace said.

“Penalties vary — for example — a load that is not secured or tarped carries an infringement penalty of $500, however, if the load is not secured and the load spills on to the road, the penalty would be $1000.”

Evidence of spills can be provided to Main Roads’ heavy vehicles services team via the help desk on 138 486 or email hvs@mainroads.wa.gov.au.

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