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NZ Transport Agency revoking certifications for more heavy vehicle towing connections

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The NZ Transport Agency is revoking the certifications for 616 drawbeams and drawbars fitted to trucks and trailers due to serious safety concerns.

Revocation notices are being sent to the owners of 359 trucks fitted with drawbeams and 257 trailers fitted with drawbars certified by Peter Wastney Engineering Ltd.

The action follows the revocation last month of certifications for 802 heavy vehicle towbars also certified by Peter Wastney Engineering Ltd.

NZTA Operational Standards Manager Craig Basher says the revocations have been ordered in response to the findings of an urgent review of the certification documents and engineering assessments for the affected drawbeams and drawbars. The review was undertaken after visual inspections of 23 affected heavy vehicle drawbeams and drawbars by specialist certifiers raised concerns, with at least one drawbar requiring immediate repair.

The visual inspections were carried out as part of the NZ Transport Agency’s response to broader safety issues relating to Peter Wastney Engineering Ltd.

The revocation orders for towbars, drawbeams and drawbars follow the issuing of a heavy vehicle safety alert by the Transport Agency on February 14, 2018.  The safety alert required the operators of vehicles with 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 were found.

The heavy vehicle safety alert was issued in response to an investigation carried out by the Transport Agency following an on-road drawbeam failure in August 2017 which resulted in a heavy trailer disconnecting from a truck and striking an embankment on SH6 near Nelson. As part of that investigation an independent engineering review was undertaken, which established that some towing connections were not adequately designed for the loads to which they had been certified by Peter Wastney Engineering Ltd.  Mr Wastney’s status as an approved heavy vehicle certifier was suspended in September 2017, and he has since surrendered his certification authority.

The majority of the affected vehicles are located in the Nelson, Marlborough, Tasman and West Coast areas. The heavy trucks fitted with affected drawbeams can remain on the road, but they must not be used to tow trailers until the drawbeams are removed, replaced or inspected and recertified. The heavy trailers with affected drawbars cannot be operated until the drawbars are replaced or inspected and recertified.

Mr Basher says the Transport Agency is aware of the significant impact the revocation action will have on vehicle owners and local businesses, and the agency is working with the Road Transport Forum and others to provide support and additional resources to ensure that inspections, re-certifications and repairs can be completed as quickly as possible.

The Transport Agency is also working with heavy vehicle engineers to provide additional certifiers at temporary sites in Blenheim, Nelson, Greymouth and Westport to fast-track inspections and re-certifications in order to minimise disruption for industry.

The Transport Agency has also agreed to cover the costs of the re-certifications and any necessary repairs in order to mitigate the impact of the revocation action on vehicle owners.

“We understand what this action means and the potential disruption it may cause, and we are committed to supporting affected vehicle owners. The decision to revoke certifications is not something which we have taken lightly, but given the evidence to hand we believe this action is necessary in order to address the potential risks involved and protect the safety of road users.

The Transport Agency is sending the revocation notices to the owners of affected vehicles today.

More information can be found on our website at www.nzta.govt.nz/pwe-revocation. Affected vehicle owners can also ring 0800 699 000.

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