A driver who caused a serious accident on Picton Road by failing to properly secure a heavy load to the back of his ute has been handed a $1500 fine – much to the frustration of the magistrate who dished out the penalty.
Kevin Scott Plumpton was transporting a 450kg steel cylinder using a single tie-down strap one soggy morning last June when the strap broke, causing the apparatus to fall off the tray of his Toyota Hilux and hit the road’s concrete safety barriers, pushing them into the opposite lane.
Plumpton stopped on the side of the road and contacted police, who were on their way to the scene when they received further phone calls about a multi-vehicle accident at the same site.
Upon arrival, police spoke with a truck driver who said he had been heading westbound when he noticed the cylinder in the middle of the roadway at the last moment and was unable to avoid hitting it.
A second vehicle travelling behind the truck also collided with it, police were told.
Meantime, four cars travelling in the opposite direction hit the concrete safety barriers that had been pushed into the eastbound lane. A female driver of one of the vehicles was subsequently taken to hospital with neck and rib fractures, a perforated bowel and a lacerated spleen.
She spent several weeks in hospital and has been unable to return to work, court documents said.
Meantime, Plumpton fled the scene after seeing the truck hit the cylinder, but turned himself in to Picton Police Station a few hours later.
He told police he’d picked up the cylinder from a Warrawong business the previous afternoon and had been driving it to his workplace in Picton when it fell off the back of his ute.
He was subsequently charged with driving with an unsecured load and failing to exchange details after the crash, both of which only carry fines as punishment.
In agreed facts tendered to Wollongong Local Court this week, police said Plumpton should have ensured the cylinder was properly secured before transporting it.
“The accused should have used more than one tie down strap…..[he also] should have placed blocks and had some non-slip surface to make sure the cylinder did not become loose and fall from the rear of the utility,” investigating police wrote.
Magistrate Mark Douglass agreed, labelling Plumpton’s case an “extreme example” of what could occur when people drove with unsecured loads and questioned why police had not charged Plumpton with more serious offences.
”In my view it’s driving in a dangerous manner," he said.
“The police have chosen not to charge you with something more….legally my hands are tied in how I can deal with this matter.”
Plumpton was handed a $1500 fine for the unsecured load charge – the maximum possible after receiving an automatic 25 per cent discount for his early guilty plea.
He was also fined a further $750 for leaving the scene without exchanging his licence details.