On February10, 2012 I experienced an incident which I consider to be dangerous passing by an operator of a International Energy Services (IES) semi-trailer pulling what I assume is a fuel tanker. This incident occurred on Winthrop Avenue in Nedlands, a dual lane in each direction carriageway. That is the International Energy Services driver had an opportunity to drive in either the left lane or the right lane.
International Energy Services also appear to trade as Cootes Transport and at least in Western Australia appear to have the contract for delivery of Shell Australia fuel. I wonder if Shell Australia condone the International Energy Services operator’s driving? As a result of this incident I have written to Mr Vin Stenta, Chief Executive Officer of International Energy Services and have also filed a formal complaint with Senior Sergeant Di Prinzio at CentralÂ Metropolitan Traffic, Western Australia Police.
As noted early the incident involving the International Energy Services truck took place on February 10, 2012 at 5:12 PM on Winthrop Avenue, Nedlands. My recording of the incident follows.
A further salient point to note is that I actually turned right into Winthrop Avenue from Aberdare Street at the traffic lights. At these same traffic lights, occupying primary position in the left lane was the International Energy Services semi-trailer. To add to this from this point up to when the semi-trailer passed me, I was in full view of the truck operator. My full recording of the video shows the truck the whole time so the operator (a) should have been aware of a vulnerable road user ahead of him or her given I had pulled on to the road right in front of their eyes and (b) I was visible to them or should have been the from the moment I turned in Winthrop Avenue until semi-trailer passed me before the Monash Avenue lights.
As a result of this incident I have as I mentioned early written to Mr Vin Stenta, CEO, of International Energy Services. The content of that letter is reproduced below.
INCIDENT INVOLVING INTERNATIONAL ENERGY SERVICES SEMI-TRAILER CONFIGURATION WINTHROP AVENUE, SHENTON PARK, WESTERN AUSTRALIA ON FEBRUARY 10, 2012 @ 5:12 PM
I was riding my bicycle in a legal manner in a southerly direction on Winthrop Avenue, Shenton Park in Western Australia on Saturday February 11, 2012 when I was passed at approximately 5:12 PM very closely in a dangerous and irresponsible manner by an International Energy Services semi-trailer pulling what I assume is a fuel tanker and that actions of your operator put myself at risk of serious injury or worse. The registration number of the trailer being pulled is ITKG 381. Please refer to the enclosed video of the incident.
Prior to the dangerous passing by your operator, I had made a right hand turn on to Winthrop Avenue from Aberdare Road. As I completed that turn your operator was the lead vehicle stopped to my left at the traffic lights in the left hand. Therefore there is no reason at all as to why your driver should not have been aware of my presence on the road. Furthermore, as the video from the rear-facing camera mounted on my bicycle shows, your the truck was visible from the moment I turned into Winthrop Avenue until the passing manoeuvre took place and hence I was visible to the driver right up to and including the unsafe passing of myself.Â Your operator had more than sufficient time to make a safe passing manoeuvre or to slow down to an appropriate speed until it was safe to pass.
Instead your driver chose to pass in a dangerous and irresponsible manner putting myself at risk.
All road users should expect to be able to use the roads in a safe manner, more so vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians.Â Such users should not be subject to such bulling and definitely not by a semi-trailer pulling a fuel tanker!
Clearly your “professional” drivers are on the face of it far from professional Mr Stenta and immediate action needs to be taken to address this driver’s behaviour and to ensure all your drivers are properly trained to drive on the roads in a safe and responsible manner; particular around vulnerable road users. Your drivers also clearly need to gain an understanding of “sweep values” and the potential implications of sway or that cyclists are vulnerable to the suck effect of trailer passing closely and at. It is clear that your driver made no allowance for such a possibility. I draw your attention to the National Transport Commission Australia PBS Standards dated January 6, 2009. You can find the document at http://ntc.gov.au/viewpage.aspx?documentid=1230.
In closing I am most disappointed that I have had to write to your company about this matter, as my experience is that fuel tanker drivers are very professional and safe drivers; unfortunately this incident does not reflect this.
I hope that no further vulnerable road users will be put at risk by the irresponsible actions of your drivers in future and that you will take this as an opportunity to ensure that your employees apply professional standards of driving and safety at all the times.
For me besides the obvious issue of getting hit and probably killed (I hate to think what the chances are of surviving being hit by a semi-trailer even at these relatively slow speeds. The speed limit on this road is 70 km/h BTW) is that this International Energy Services so called professional driver failed to take into consideration possible trailer sway or the existence of a draft which could have drawn me into the trailer. So not only did the driver not pass at a safe distance for any vehicle, he or she also failed to take into consideration the greater risks posed by the trailer.
I hope that International Energy Services wake-up and treat this matter very seriously. No cyclist, no vulnerable road user should be put at risk by this sort of driving and I hope that Mr Stenta understands this and take steps to ensure all his “professional” drivers understand this as well.
As to the Western Australia Police and Senior Sergeant Di Prinzio my hopes are not high. My one only past interaction with the CentralÂ Metropolitan Traffic left me with the impression that a cyclist needs to be killed Â before they take any interest (looking at you Senior Sergeant Smith) and my recent experiences with Assistant Commission Metropolitan Stephen Smith haven’t lead me to change my view. Maybe with the recent commentary piece in the West Australian by the Commissioner of Police Dr Karl O’ Callaghan things maybe on the improve. Time will tell I guess.
One finalÂ comment. International Energy Services have a contact form here and their corporate email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. If so wish I believe that constructive feedback to International Energy Services from cyclists would be of value. We need to companies such as International Energy Services to undersand thatÂ cyclistsÂ are mums and dads, brothers and sisters and sons and daughters too and we should should be allowed to use the roads in safety. Maybe the same message needs to get through to the Western Australia Police as well. They are on twitter at @WA_Police, Facebook here and they have a contact form here.
Update – February 17, 2012 – International Energy Services Incident
I did report this matter to the Western Australian Police at Central Metropolitan Traffic and was advise on Friday February 17, 2012 that there was no offense committed. It comes down to the wording of regulation 124 of the Western Australian Road Traffic Code 2000. Regulation 124 states …
124. Keeping a safe distance when overtaking
A driver overtaking a vehicle
(a) shall pass the vehicle at a sufficient distance to avoid a collision with that vehicle or to avoid obstructing the path of that vehicle; and
(b) shall not return to the marked lane or line of traffic where the vehicle is travelling until the driver is a sufficient distance past that vehicle to avoid a collision with that vehicle or to avoid obstructing the path of thatÂ vehicle.
The view of the WA Police Officer reviewing the incident is that that the distance was sufficient to avoid a collision and that operator returned to the line of traffic without obstructing my path.
Hopefully International Energy Services take a more proactive approach to road safety.