Tue, Jan 30, 2024 2:56 PM

Driver blamed ‘gust of wind’ for truck roll which blocked SH1 for hours


Tracy Neal

Truck driver Wayne Jones might have got away with the false logbook entries, had a gust of wind not blown over his truck.

The accident on the morning of October 17 last year blocked State Highway 1 south of Lake Grassmere for several hours after the heavy truck and trailer unit tipped over and spilt palm kernel over the highway.

The 50-year-old driver for Golden Bay-based Sollys Freight told the Nelson District Court on Monday, through his lawyer Mark Dollimore, that a “freak gust of wind” and “design issues with the road” caused the vehicle to tip over.

Jones was convicted and fined $2500 and disqualified from driving various classes of truck for a month after pleading guilty to charges including making a false statement in a logbook, exceeding hours of work time and failing to take proper rest breaks.

Drivers must not work for more than 13 hours in any workday and are legally required to take breaks, for the safety of themselves and other road users.

Dollimore said what happened had been a “wake-up call” and that he wasn’t as vigilant as he might have been, but he was distracted by stress of a personal nature.

After the accident, Jones handed his logbook to the police who found he’d driven from Christchurch that morning.

The discrepancies were found when police asked for further records from Sollys, including logbooks, accommodation and fuel records for Jones's truck.

The records showed Jones had on several occasions recorded start times but when cross-referenced against other records, they showed he’d been on the road hours earlier than stated.

Judge Mary O’Dwyer noted that the breaches occurred within a short timeframe and that Jones admitted the charges at the earliest opportunity.

She also noted Jones’ good work record, his work as a volunteer over a decade in Tapawera, and that he realised what he’d done was not how a professional driver should act.

Judge O’Dwyer commended Jones for enrolling in a refresher course on the rules and regulations around driving heavy vehicles.

“You were stood down from work for a month and lost wages and you will lose more through the disqualification I will impose,” she said.

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