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NZ Transport Agency issues safety alert for heavy vehicle towing connections

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The NZ Transport Agency has issued a safety alert requiring heavy vehicle owners and operators to urgently check towing connections certified by suspended heavy vehicle certifier Richard ‘Dick’ Joyce.

The action is being undertaken in response to safety concerns identified during the NZ Transport Agency’s current investigation of Mr Joyce’s certification activity. The investigation was initiated following the indefinite suspension of Mr Joyce’s heavy vehicle specialist certifier (HVSC) appointment on 13 June 2018, as a result of issues identified during Transport Agency audits.

NZTA Operational Standards Manager Craig Basher says once the decision to suspend Mr Joyce was taken, the Transport Agency immediately commenced an investigation to examine other certifications carried out by Mr Joyce to determine whether there were further safety issues in addition to those identified through the audit process which gave rise to the suspension. 

“Through that investigation we have established that there are further potential safety issues with towing connections certified by Mr Joyce which must be addressed. The safety alert we have issued today requires the operators of all vehicles with potentially affected towbars, drawbeams, or drawbars to urgently have them cleaned and inspected for signs of cracks or other failures, carry out daily inspections before use and discontinue using the vehicles if any cracks or failures are found.”

Mr Basher says the Transport Agency’s investigation into drawbeams, drawbars and towbars certified by Mr Joyce has identified that a number were not adequately designed for the loads to which they had been certified or have been recertified beyond their viable design life. The Transport Agency estimates approximately 480 vehicles are potentially affected.  An independent engineering analysis of certification documents and engineering assessments is currently underway.  

Mr Basher says the Transport Agency may order revocations of towing connections certified by Mr Joyce in response to its investigation. The Transport Agency will also take into account the findings of its investigation when considering any further action necessary in respect of Mr Joyce’s suspended appointment as a certifier.

“The NZ Transport Agency is focussed on ensuring the safety of all heavy vehicles on our roads. In the area of specialist heavy vehicle certification, we rely on the support of a network of qualified professionals to carry out the services which they are appointed to provide to a high standard, and we will take action when any person appointed to carry out these specialised services fails to perform their duties to the high standards required.”

The heavy vehicle safety alert can be viewed online at: nzta.govt.nz/safety-alerts

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