Heavy vehicles on the South Eastern Freeway
New penalties apply to drivers of all heavy vehicles and buses who use the South Eastern Freeway down-track into Adelaide.
Trucks and buses limited to 60 km/h
A maximum 60 km/h speed limit applies to all trucks and buses on the down-track of the South Eastern Freeway from the Crafers Interchange to the bottom of the freeway.
Speed limits may be further reduced through variable speed limit signs or other temporary speed limit signs at any time to ensure safety. This may be due to inclement weather, reduced visibility or as a result of a crash or roadworks.
When descending the South Eastern Freeway, truck and bus drivers must:
- use a gear that is low enough to enable the vehicle to be driven safely without the use of a primary brake, and
- not drive at a speed in excess of the relevant speed limit.
Offences and penalties
From 12:01 am on 6 December 2019
Truck or bus drivers whose vehicles are not engaged in a low gear, as described above, or exceed the relevant speed limit by 10km/h or more will receive:
- An expiation fee of $1,036 and 6 demerit points for a first offence; plus
- Six-month licence disqualification for a second offence
- 12-month licence disqualification for a third offence
- Three-year licence disqualification for subsequent offences
Note: When a person expiates one of the above offences and that offence is subject to a licence disqualification, the Registrar of Motor Vehicles (the Registrar) must issue a Notice of Disqualification for the relevant period. There is no discretion in the legislation and no leniency can be applied by the Registrar, even where a truck or bus driver requires their licence for work.
- When convicted by the court, a first offence will attract a maximum fine of $5,000, plus six demerit points and a licence disqualification of no less than six months. Second and subsequent offences will attract six demerit points and a licence disqualification of no less than 12 months (or no less than three years in the case of a subsequent offence) and up to two year imprisonment.
If your business vehicle is detected speeding
- A body corporate levy of $5,000 applies to a business that fails to nominate the driver responsible for a camera-detected speeding offence on the SE Freeway down-track. This is in addition to the $1,036 expiation fee payable.
- Where a driver is not nominated and the body corporate is found guilty of the offence by a Court, a fine between $10,000 and $20,000 will apply.
No body-corporate levy is payable where a business successfully nominates the driver of the vehicle.
The revised penalties recently passed by the South Australian Parliament better reflect community expectations, particularly around first offences, while maintaining strong penalties for repeat offenders who have chosen to disregard the law, putting themselves and other road users at greater risk.
Any offence(s) committed prior to midnight on 6 December 2019 continues to be subject to the penalties in force at the time of the offence.
Penalties that came into force on 1 May 2019
For truck and bus drivers whose vehicles were not engaged in a low gear, or exceeded the relevant speed limit by 10 km/h or more the penalties are as follows:
- An expiation fee of $1,036 plus six demerit points; plus
- six-month licence disqualification for a first offence
- 12-month licence disqualification for a second offence
- three-year licence disqualification for a subsequent offence
- When convicted by the court, a first offence will attract a maximum fine of $5000, plus 6 demerit points and a licence disqualification of no less than 12 months. Subsequent offences attract six demerit points, a licence disqualification of no less than three years and up to two years imprisonment.
If your business vehicle was detected speeding
- A body corporate levy of $25,000 applies to a business that fails to nominate the driver responsible for a camera-detected speeding offence on the SE Freeway down-track. This is in addition to the $1,036 expiation fee payable.
- Where a driver is not nominated and the body corporate is found guilty of the offence by a Court, a fine between $25,000 and $50,000 will apply.
- No body-corporate levy is payable where a business successfully nominates the driver of the vehicle.
Note: A South Eastern Freeway offence committed before 6 December 2019, will continue to count when determining penalties for any future offences.
Vehicles affected by the new laws
Examples of vehicles that may be subject to the new laws based on GVM or seating capacity include:
- emergency service vehicles*
- animal transport vehicles
- school and tour buses
- drilling rigs
- tip trucks
- tow trucks
- large utilities
- chauffeur vehicles
- taxi bus
The new laws do not apply where the Gross Combination Mass (GCM) of a vehicle towing another vehicle such as a trailer, horse float or caravan exceeds 4.5 tonnes in total.
While such vehicle combinations are not captured by the new laws, it is important to remember that drivers should always drive according to road conditions to ensure a safe descent.
*Exemptions: in the event of an emergency, emergency vehicles are exempt from the speed and low gear offences on the down-track of the South Eastern Freeway. Emergency vehicles are expected to use flashing red or blue lights or sirens and take reasonable care when driving in an emergency.
Is your vehicle a heavy vehicle, truck or bus?
'Truck' and 'bus' have the same definition as in the Australian Road Rules (ARR).
- A BUS is defined as a motor vehicle that seats over 12 adults including the driver.
The definition of a bus is based on the number of seats, regardless of the Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) or whether the seats are occupied or vacant.
Small buses with 1-12 seats are not subject to the speed and low gear restriction on the South Eastern Freeway.
- A TRUCK is defined as a motor vehicle with a Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) over 4.5 tonnes regardless of the body type of the vehicle (excluding tractors, trams and buses).
The GVM is not the Tare Mass. It is the GVM that is recorded and relied on for registration purposes.
If you are unsure if your vehicle is a truck or a bus, or you need to check your GVM:
Signage and speed cameras
Extra advisory signs have been installed in the approach to the down-track to remind drivers to descend safely and avoid heavy penalties.
These advisory signs, as well as speed limit and low gear signs that refer to ‘Trucks & Buses’ apply to drivers of all heavy vehicles and buses as defined above.
All Trucks and Buses must drive in the left lane between Crafers and the Measdays Bridge exit ramp (approximately 1200m), as directed by signage along the South Eastern Freeway down-track. While trucks and buses may overtake on the descent, as long as they remain in low gear and do not exceed 60km/h, they cannot overtake between these points.
The new penalties apply to low gear and speed offences committed by all trucks and buses on the down-track of the South Eastern Freeway as indicated in the map below, ending at the intersection of Portrush, Cross and Glen Osmond Roads.
Speed cameras operate along the section of the South Eastern Freeway where the new legislation applies. These cameras are operational and drivers can be penalised for road safety offences at these sites.
Why the new laws?
In 2018, the South Eastern Freeway down-track between Crafers and the Mount Osmond interchange carried an average of 25,000 vehicles per day with 2,200 classed as heavy vehicles.
Heavy vehicles pose a greater risk to other road users due to their mass and rigidity, thereby creating greater impact forces if they are involved in a crash. The speed of a vehicle has also been shown to impact on both the risk of the vehicle being involved in a crash and the resulting severity of any crashes that may occur. Due to their momentum, heavy vehicles will take much longer to stop than lighter vehicles.
In 2010 and 2014, two serious crashes involving out-of-control heavy vehicles on the South Eastern Freeway down-track tragically resulted in loss of lives and serious injuries, and prompted a South Australian Coronial Inquest.
Since late 2014, a maximum speed limit of 60km/h has applied to all trucks and buses between the Crafers Interchange and the bottom of the freeway.
In response to the Inquiry, two new offences have been created which resemble existing Australian Road Rules but are associated with significantly higher penalties when committed by truck and bus drivers on this stretch of road.
The new laws aim to improve road safety on the South Eastern Freeway and reduce heavy vehicle crashes involving brake failure and excessive speed.
The South Eastern Freeway down-track
The South Eastern Freeway forms part of the Adelaide to Melbourne road corridor and is an important strategic freight route for South Australia.
The South Eastern Freeway down-track is from Crafers to the intersection of Portrush, Cross and Glen Osmond roads.
The down-track is a sustained continuous gradient which ends with traffic lights at one of Adelaide’s busiest intersections. This presents heavy vehicle drivers with unique and significant challenges rarely encountered on other descents across Australia.
Service SA on 13 10 84