NHVR announces ‘landmark’ outcome in Eastern Freeway tragedy

Eastern Freeway

Following a six-week hearing, the National Operations Manager of a logistics company has been found guilty of a category 1 offence, the most serious under Heavy Vehicle National Law.

The employee was found guilty for breaching their due diligence as an operator and is set to be sentenced on 23 January, facing a possible two-year custodial sentence.

The charges were laid by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) in September 2021 following an extensive investigation led by Victoria Police through Taskforce Paragon.

Taskforce Paragon was established to investigate an incident on the Eastern Freeway in Melbourne, where a heavy vehicle hit and killed four Victoria Police officers while they were conducting a roadside intercept on 22 April 2020.

NHVR Executive Director Statutory Compliance, Raymond Hassall, said the collaboration between NHVR and Victoria Police ensured a positive safety outcome for the heavy vehicle industry.

“This outcome demonstrates the power of the HVNL – with the incident occurring in Victoria, the company being based out of NSW, and having employees right across Australia, the matter was able to be heard from a national perspective,” he said.

“It was also found that they were a party in the Chain of Responsibility (CoR) as an operator, sending a strong message to executives across the heavy vehicle industry that their obligation is to keep their people and all road users safe.”

The matter was heard on Monday 4 December at Downing Centre Court in New South Wales.

Just days before, police detected 26 drink drivers in a two-day major road policing operation also on the Eastern Freeway.

Operation Chorus, which was conducted over Friday and Saturday night, specifically targeted impaired driving on the freeway between Bulleen and Doncaster roads.

Across the two days, 2026 preliminary breath tests were recorded with 26 drivers found to be in excess of the legal alcohol limit.

Of the 26 motorists caught, one driver returned a blood alcohol reading (BAC) of .152 and another of .118.

Police also impounded eight vehicles and detected one driver whose license was disqualified, an unaccompanied learner and another person who had a cancelled license.

A further five vehicles failed to stop at the random breath testing.

In the lead up to the holiday season, Victoria Police is warning motorists that there will be zero tolerance to drink and drug driving, with significant penalties for those who disregard the rules.

“As the festive season is upon us, remember choosing to drink and drive, or take drugs and drive could have catastrophic consequences,” said Eastern Region Acting Superintendent, Stephen Cooper.

“We’ll continue to be out conducting alcohol and drug testing at every opportunity, so know if you are impaired behind the wheel we could be just around the corner.”

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