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If I get pulled over, what will the police check regarding my load of dangerous goods?

In New Zealand, in most cases, if you are transporting dangerous goods you are required to abide by the Land Transport Dangerous Goods Rule 2005 and, as such, you are liable for prosecution if you do anything that contravenes the many laws.  

Why would police pull you over when carrying dangerous goods?

There are many reasons the police might pull you over, but there are specific things related to dangerous goods which might attract their attention:

  • You’re displaying placards, but you’re obviously empty
  • You’re not displaying placards, but your load looks like it might include DGs
  • You didn’t stop in a place where it’s mandatory to stop (e.g. tank wagon at a railway crossing)
  • You’re displaying placards for DGs which are not supposed to be carried in the same vehicle

This document is intended as a brief summary of the things that will be checked when you are pulled over and carrying dangerous goods. If you’re unsure about carrying dangerous goods, make sure you’ve got a D endorsement and you’ve had recent training. 

Before you find yourself breaking out in a sweat when you see the flashing lights behind you, it is important that you are prepared so you can avoid fines and loss of licence.  

Infringement fees 

The fines can range from $1,500 to $10,000 for an individual on summary conviction, in other words, it has gone to court. The fines can range from $10,000 to $50,000 for a body corporate on summary conviction.  There can also be a substantial loss of licence for the driver (the time would be decided on by the court). 

Licence and D endorsement 

Your licence will be checked to ensure it is current and correct for the type of vehicle you are driving. There will also be a check to ensure you have a D “Dangerous Goods” endorsement on your licence and it is current. The D endorsement lasts for five years from the time you register your course certificate at your local licencing agent.  

Documents 

There are several documents you should be carrying in most cases and that would depend on the reason you are carrying the dangerous goods and the amount you are carrying.  The documents will be checked by the enforcement officer at the time you are pulled over; it is not only the police that fall under the category of “enforcement officer.” 

In most cases you should have a dangerous goods declaration. A dangerous goods declaration must accompany dangerous goods when they are being transported unless the goods are exempted under section 5.3 of the Rule. The declaration must consist of a single page but if the list of goods requires additional pages, or a schedule of quantities, these can be attached. A schedule of quantities, details when loads are put on or off the truck. Land Transport Dangerous Goods Rule Section 5 

Vehicle placarding 

The correct placarding relevant for the load you are carrying will be checked. Placement on the vehicle and full compliance must be adhered to as per the Land Transport Dangerous Goods Rule section 7. Find out more about placarding.

Segregation and separation 

Segregation and separation of the load will be checked and compliance here is extremely important. In some cases, classes of dangerous goods must be segregated or separated because they could react with each other or impact on the safety of all concerned, including the public. Segregation is when a class of dangerous goods is put inside an approved container. Separation is when loads are required to be kept at least three metres horizontally from each other. Land Transport Rule Dangerous Goods Section 6 details this.

Packaging and labelling 

The dangerous goods must be labelled as required by law and there must not be evidence of the packages leaking. The enforcement officer must be able to see the labels and markings easily and this will help to ascertain that you have complied, and you can get back on the road earlier. If the enforcement officer can’t see the goods, they could have you unload the truck to enable them to see. See Land Transport Dangerous Goods Rule 2005 Section 3 and 4. 

Load security 

If you are carrying dangerous goods you are required to secure the load as much as any other type of load, there is, however, a requirement for you to secure dangerous goods so that separation is maintained as required. The segregation devices, if used must be secured also. See Land Transport Dangerous Goods Rule Section 8. 

On a road vehicle, the load must be secured using load restraints if necessary, to withstand the acceleration and deceleration that occurs during normal conditions of transport. 

To ensure that loading regulations are met, you should comply with the following points; 

  • The restraint system must be suitable for the vehicle and nature of the load 
  • All restraint equipment must be in good working condition. All damaged or worn chains or strops or rope must be discarded 
  • The safe working load of the restraint equipment must not be exceeded 
  • Enough load anchor points must be provided. The rated safe working load of each anchor point (shown on the rating plate) must not be exceeded 
  • Whenever possible, the load should be loaded against the headboard of the vehicle or baulked to reduce the likelihood of movement 
  • Loose restraining equipment (for example tarpaulins, dunnage, strops, chains) are considered to be insecure loads and these must be secured 
  • For curtainsiders and van bodies, when heavy items are transported or loads are not within 100mm of the curtains or sides of the vehicle, they must be secured to prevent movement forwards, rearwards and sideways in accordance with the Truck Loading Code 
  • Where dangerous goods are transported in bulk, a much greater hazard exists and, consideration should be given to twice the weight of the load in all directions 
  • Dangerous goods that must be segregated from other packages must be restrained to prevent movement of the load, maintain segregation and prevent spillage. 

Summary 

Carrying dangerous goods can be a risky task but if everybody does their part in complying with the rules and regulations there will be less risk of contamination to people and the environment. The enforcement officers are there to ensure compliance with rules and regulations. If and when you do get pulled up while transporting dangerous goods you should be confident that what you are doing is up to the best of your ability 

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Darren is a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists and the NZ Motoring Writers' Guild

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